Virgin Atlantic says it will suspend its service between London Heathrow and Austin at the start of next year after a recent review of its network concluded that the tech bubble that has transformed the Lone Star State capital is starting to burst.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Sir Richard Branson-linked airline said Virgin Atlantic was quitting Austin because of “a persistent softening in corporate demand, specifically the tech sector”.
Corporate travel demand on international routes from Austin has failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels and is currently sitting at just 70% of the demand seen in 2019, Virgin Atlantic lamented.
Virgin Atlantic is deserting the city just over a year and a half after starting the nearly 8,000 km flight from London. At the time, the airline said Austin was a “key focus” for its transatlantic expansion because of the city’s growing status as a tech hub.
Despite the many “synergies” that Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen boasted the airline shared with Austin when the route launched last year, on Friday, Jarvinen admitted defeat.
“We’ve adored flying our customers to Austin and experiencing this wonderful city of music and culture, but demand in the Tech sector is not set to improve in the near term,” Jarvinen explained.
“Sadly we made the tough decision to withdraw services,” Jarvinen continued. “We’d like to thank everyone in Austin; our customers, teams, partners and the authorities for their support over the past 18 months.”
Virgin Atlantic has been serving Austin four times per week and the flight had been part of the airline’s joint venture with Delta Air Lines. Passengers who have booked flights for next year will be offered a full refund or rebooking options.
With Virgin Atlantic’s departure, the only non-stop flight between Austin and London will be operated by British Airways which has served the city since 2014.
Virgin Atlantic will utilise the capacity freed up from its cancelled Austin service to add additional flights to Miami, Barbados and Dubai which are all witnessing “robust customer demand” for premium leisure travel.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.