Austin, October 29, 2023 – Virgin Atlantic– announced on Friday its decision to suspend its nonstop route between London and Austin, citing a persistent softening in corporate demand, particularly in the tech sector. The route, which commenced in May 2022, will cease operations on January 7, 2024.
Background: Over the past decade, Austin’s reputation has been closely linked to its thriving tech sector, attracting companies with its highly educated workforce and generous tax incentives. However, Virgin Atlantic’s decision reflects the recent challenges faced by the city’s tech industry, leading to reduced demand for corporate travel.
Statement from Virgin Atlantic: Virgin Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer, Juha Järvinen, expressed regret over the decision, stating, “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, with corporate demand at 70% of 2019 levels. Therefore, sadly, we made the tough decision to withdraw services.”
Impact on Austin: This move reflects the shifting economic landscape in Austin. Just two years ago, the city had a booming commercial real estate market, but recent reports have highlighted the challenges, including a growing number of vacancies in new construction projects.
Future Prospects: While Virgin Atlantic’s exit is a setback, Austin airport officials expressed gratitude for the airline’s contribution and expressed hope for their return in the future. Meanwhile, British Airways continues to connect London and Austin with nonstop flights.
In response to the suspension of the Austin route, Virgin Atlantic announced plans to enhance its service between London and Miami for the summer 2024 season. The airline will increase the number of flights between the two cities from 11 to 14, signaling a shift in its operational focus.
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