Virgin Atlantic grows Tel Aviv to 2 daily; big market with $441 avg. one-way fare

Virgin Atlantic grows Tel Aviv to 2 daily; big market with $441 avg. one-way fare

Virgin Atlantic will double its London Heathrow – Tel Aviv service from 28 March 2021.

It began Tel Aviv on 25 September last year on a once-daily basis using 264-seat A330-300s.

This was one part of the carrier’s network changes announced this week following its assertion that it would stop serving London Gatwick and instead consolidate its London operations at London Heathrow

This will see Virgin Atlantic’s Orlando and Caribbean services move from Gatwick to Heathrow from summer 2021.  It will also end Manchester – Las Vegas, and it will not start Manchester – Delhi which was due to begin this winter.

Frequency and timings enable core US connections for Virgin Atlantic

Routing New frequency from… Weekly frequency Timings* Direct competition (WF)** Indirect competition
London Heathrow – Tel Aviv 28 March 2021 14 From Heathrow:

To Heathrow:

29 29**
*Expected timings based on various reports. **Based on the week starting 28 March 2021 as of 14 May 2020, so may change. Of non-Heathrow flights, only those to/from Luton are currently bookable. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser and airline websites.

Connections over Heathrow have always been important for Tel Aviv, and amounted to about 20% of total passengers last year, according to MIDT data via OAG Traffic Analyser.

Across all airlines and connecting European hub airports, New York was – obviously – by far the single-largest O&D from Tel Aviv last year.

Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Washington completed the top-five list.   Boston was sixth, San Francisco seventh, and Atlanta ninth.

With these timings, Virgin Atlantic will offer two-way connectivity with good timings to Atlanta (via Delta), Miami, New York JFK, and Washington IAD. 

Los Angeles and San Francisco will be available too, but with longer, and less competitive, transit times at Heathrow en route to Tel Aviv.

Heathrow – Tel Aviv is a large but slow-growing market…

Heathrow – Tel Aviv had 776,000 seats last year, up 4.8% YOY.  The airport-pair market was split among British Airways (53%), El Al (40%), and Virgin Atlantic (7%).

Unsurprisingly, Heathrow – Tel Aviv has grown shallowly, with just 81,300 more seats in 2019 than 2010; a CAGR of 1%. 

El Al ended 2019 with fewer seats than in 2010 as a result of fewer seats per frequency from primarily operating B787-9s rather than B777-200s and B747-400s.

Four London airports have service to Tel Aviv: Gatwick; Heathrow; Luton; and Stansted.  Following Arkia ending Stansted in January, El Al is due to serve the Essex airport, its third in London, from 28 June.

Heathrow is the leading London airport to Tel Aviv, with 56% of seats – down from 75% in 2010 as Luton’s share increased from 25% to 38% from easyJet and Wizz Air’s growth.

Virgin Atlantic grows Tel Aviv to 2 daily; big market with $441 avg. one-way fare

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

… but with high average fares

With 678,000 passengers (local, beyond, and behind) and 776,000 seats, Heathrow – Tel Aviv commanded a respectable seat load factor of 87% last year.  

The market also generated high average fares given its comparatively short 3,593-kilometre distance, with flight times of between four and four-and-a-half hours depending on the direction.

Last year, it achieved an estimated average one-way fare of USD$441 across all cabins (excluding fuel surcharges, which are kept by airlines, and taxes), OAG Traffic Analyser shows. (Fares over Heathrow  averaged $752 one-way.)

This is partly indicative of the premium demand on this airport-pair, evidenced by over 120,000 business class seats available last year. More than 100,000 premium class seats were also available. 

However, with more seats on offer last year (+4.8% YOY) than passengers (+4.6%), seat load factor reduced slightly.  Meanwhile, following Virgin Atlantic’s entrance, the estimated average fare fell faster (-6.6%) than passengers were added (+4.6%), so total market revenue fell.

With Virgin Atlantic’s increased frequency, it will be very interesting to see the future impact on airport-pair, and city-pair, dynamics.


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