Air freight carriers Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo will expand their network between U.K. and U.S. airports beginning in the summer of 2020, saying the move offers cargo customers expanded choices of trans-Atlantic capacity, routes, and frequencies.
The strategy will see Delta join Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick Airport for the first time together, as the London-area hub becomes Delta's seventh trans-Atlantic destination served nonstop from Boston,the companies said today.
Together, the airlines will offer up to four daily flights from Gatwick to three U.S. cities next summer. Delta's return to the site will mark the first time the airlines have both served the airport since their partnership began in 2014.
Starting in March, the airlines will also increase capacity between New York-JFK and London Heathrow, including three daily frequencies by Delta and five by Virgin Atlantic, and providing more flight options connecting one of the world's premier trade lanes, the airlines said.
Delta said the new services from Heathrow will also be supported by the opening later in 2019 of the partners' new joint cargo terminal, which will double their cargo handling capacity at the airport and boost their ability to meet customers' service expectations.
"This is great news for the cargo customers of both airlines and will significantly increase the choice they have to ship goods between the U.K. and U.S.," Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director, Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, said in a release. "As we continue to build a platform for long-term growth, our summer 2020 schedule represents another strengthening of our joint venture with Delta Cargo and will help to reinforce our position as a carrier of choice on the highly-competitive trans-Atlantic market."
The move comes in spite of a slowing in air cargo growth, according to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showing that air freight volumes grew just modestly in 2018, following a "very strong year" in 2017.