Virgin Atlantic U.S. Arrival
Credit: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic opened its new London-Seattle route this week, on the heels of the announcement that Virgin America will shutter following its merger with Alaska Airlines.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson took the flight from London to Seattle Monday on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, The Seattle Times reported. The route will replace one operated by Virgin’s sister brand, Delta.

“Our experience from afar with our sister company and the role they’ve played in Seattle has elevated the Virgin brand for us in this city, more so than a typical startup route would ordinarily be,” he said. “The brand is already known here.”

The new daily route will add over 40,000 extra seats between London and Seattle each year, according to a press release. The flight to Seattle will depart London Heathrow at 1:20 p.m. local time and arrive at Seattle-Tacoma at 3 p.m. The flight to London will leave Seattle at 5:50 p.m. and arrive at 10:50 a.m. the next day.

Passengers on the Boeing 787-9 can opt in to chauffeur limo service, drinks from the brand’s well-known bar, WiFi, and flat-bed seats.

The new flight will make Virgin Atlantic an option for passengers looking to fly on to Hawaii or California, according to Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Craig Kreeger.

“As the home to Microsoft, Amazon and of course Boeing, Seattle’s one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.and as a mecca for entrepreneurs and innovators, it’s a perfect fit for the Virgin Atlantic brand,” Branson said in a release.

Despite this new addition, Virgin is bracing for losses, as a result of a declining pound and increased competition with the rise of budget airlines. Kreeger told Bloomberg the company is looking to remain competitive by keeping prices affordable while maintaining the high level of service for which the brand is known.