As Vancouver celebrates its 125th birthday this year, Virgin Atlantic gives the city a very special present as the airline announces the launch of a new route from London Heathrow.

The new service with Virgin Atlantic to Vancouver will commence on 24th May 2012 and will operate four times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Initially the service will run throughout the summer up until 27th October 2012 and will see up to 40,000 Virgin Atlantic customers travelling between London and Vancouver in the first season.

As the airline’s 34th worldwide route, Virgin Atlantic estimates that it will deliver around CAD$54million of tourism revenue to the Vancouver market each year.

In addition to the new service to Vancouver, Virgin Atlantic is also delighted to announce the launch of a second service with Virgin Atlantic to San Francisco which will operate three times a week.

These two new services strengthen the airline’s network in the North American market, which already includes the nine long-haul destinations of New York City, Boston, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Edmond Rose, Director of Commercial and Revenue Planning commented: “We’ve had lots of customers asking us to fly to Vancouver over the years, so we’re delighted to launch this new route in response to customer demand.

“Vancouver is such a cosmopolitan city, full of culture, shopping and restaurants but it also offers stunning beaches and a range of outdoor adventure options on its doorstep. Vancouver’s tourism is thriving and we believe that we can drive demand even higher by providing great competition with our award winning product and service.

“The UK has the largest number of overseas visitors to British Columbia each year so it is a natural addition to our route network.

“This route launch further cements our position as the UK’s leading long haul leisure airline.”

Amanda Wills, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, said: “This is fantastic news for our customers. Vancouver and British Columbia has been a growing destination for us over the last three years.

“We’re looking forward to taking Rockstar Service to the Rockies and building some really exciting packages and tailor-made itineraries that make the most of the region’s mix of city break, fly-drive and touring options. San Francisco is one of our most popular USA destinations and an increase in flight frequency will also be widely welcomed by our customers.”

“Today’s announcement by Virgin Atlantic, of four new weekly flights between London and Vancouver, is positive news for British Columbia’s tourism industry,” said The Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia.

“The United Kingdom is one of our key markets and also serves as a hub for other international travellers heading to our province.

“Virgin Atlantic is recognised around the world as a progressive airline and we look forward to welcoming their passengers to Super, Natural British Columbia when their service begins next summer.”