Virgin Atlantic announces return to Winter Sun destination Dubai

Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Dreamliner on the taxiway.
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Virgin Atlantic has revealed that it will return to the UAE with a winter seasonal service to Dubai later this year – a route not operated since March 2019.

‘Capitalising on Pent Up Demand’

The re-established winter sun destination was announced by the company with flights planned to commence on 28 October 2023.

Flights will operate a four-times-a-week service between the carrier’s home base of London Heathrow and Dubai in the UAE.

The service will operate on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 fleet of aircraft. These aircraft are in a mixed cabin configuration with 31 seats in Upper, 35 seats in Premium and 192 seats in Economy Delight, Classic and Light.

The announcement comes amid further network expansion for the airline, an expansion Virgin Atlantic cites is driven by “pent up demand” for premium travel.

Rikke Christensen, Vice President of Network & Alliances at Virgin Atlantic, said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to Dubai – a destination we know our customers and people love.”

“Its inviting climate during the cold UK winter, combined with its first-class collection of hotels and experiences make Dubai a must visit destination for sunshine hungry Brits.”


The route is already well-served between the UK and the UAE. Emirates is, naturally, the largest operator between the two nations with routes between Dubai and London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Stansted.

It also operates flights to Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. British Airways, often seen as Virgin Atlantic’s main rival, operate daily between Heathrow and Dubai with multiple flights per day.

When Virgin Atlantic last withdrew from the route, it was reported that it had no longer become commercially viable following 10 years of operations.

Flights will go on sale on 07 June 2023 and tickets start at 505 GBP return.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Network Expansion

Despite the potential competition on the route, the airline is confident the flights will be a success with its leisure customer markets, such as couples and families who search for winter sunshine destinations.

Virgin Atlantic Holidays, the airline’s sister company for package holidays, has an existing portfolio of over 30 properties throughout Dubai and the surrounding region.

Another change since the carrier’s previous Dubai operations is its membership in SkyTeam and its partnership with Delta. The airline has proposed the new route will allow further choices for connecting to North America via its Heathrow hub and partner airlines.

As a popular route between the UK and UAE, the destination returns to the company’s network with other announcements on additional Las Vegas flights and the new routes to the Maldives and Turks and Caicos.

The airline has also announced it will be implementing an “island-hopping” service between Barbados and Grenada and between St Vicente and the Grenadines.

The only UK airline to perform such a service, Virgin Atlantic announced an increase in premium seats in the region by 150% compared to 2019 operations. The inter-island service will begin on 14 June 2023.

Flights to St Vincent and the Grenadines will begin operating three times a week in the Winter. Seats to St Lucia will increase by 33% in 2023 compared to 2022.

“We’ve long wanted to return to this incredible city when the time was right, and this year presents the perfect opportunity,” Christensen added.

“Dubai will complement our growing collection of winter sun destinations, bolstered by The Maldives and Turks and Caicos later this year alongside our new services between Manchester and Las Vegas in Summer 2024 and the soon to commence inter-Caribbean flights.”

By Jack K Byrne 5 Min Read
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