In 1984, Richard Branson launched Virgin Atlantic Airways as a high quality, value for money airline.
In late June of the same year, Virgin Atlantic operated its inaugural scheduled service between Gatwick and Newark, thanks to a leased Boeing 747-200 (G-VIRG), formerly operated by Aerolineas Argentinas.
By 1990, a few aircraft were added to the fleet and destinations like Miami, Tokyo, New York or Boston joined the Virgin Atlantic network.
In 1992, Richard Branson sold Virgin Music to Thorn EMI and invested the proceeds into Virgin Atlantic, which launched its first super economy service, later to become its award winning Premium Economy Class.
After almost a decade of expansion, Virgin Group sold 49% to Singapore Airlines, for £600.25 million (March, 2000).
Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to use the Airbus A340-600 in June, 2002.
During 2003, the airline carried 3.8 million passengers, while 2006 saw this figure rising to 4.6 million.
In November, 2006, Virgin introduced its Premium Economy Class.
In 2008, Virgin Atlantic operated World’s First Biofuel Flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam.
In June 2009, Virgin Atlantic recreated the very first flight to New York to celebrate it’s 25th birthday and announced that it has ordered ten of the Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
In 2010, Virgin Atlantic unveiled its new brand identity and livery, and the first global advertising campaign.
In 2011, Virgin Atlantic introduced the first A330 into service, operating between Manchester and Orlando.
In 2012, Virgin Atlantic launched the redesigned Upper Class cabin, including new Upper Class Suite and bar, and new on board service in Upper Class, including the introduction of the cheese trolley and cake stand.
In 2013, Virgin Atlantic launched the sub brand Little Red, its new UK domestic service, offering full service multiple daily flights between London to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester. The service operates in an all-economy configuration, and complimentary drinks and snacks, including a hot breakfast on flights departing before 9AM, are provided.
In September 2015, due to low passenger numbers, Little Red, Virgin Atlantic’s subsidiary for domestic services, ceased operations just two-and-a-half years after performing its first flight.
In August 2016, Virgin Atlantic introduced live TV in-flight entertainment, allowing passengers to tune in to live TV via the seat-back screen or their own devices using the onboard Wi-Fi, at no extra cost. The live TV service, which was launched with three available channels ( Sport 24, BBC World News, and CNN International), is being rolled out to the 787 Dreamliners, and all 13 aircraft will be equipped by the end of the year. Virgin Atlantic has a history of innovating in-flight entertainment. In 1991, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to introduce individual seat-back screens in all classes, and by Summer 2017 will offer Wi-Fi connectivity across all its aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic aircraft are featured in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace.
No deadly incident involving Virgin Atlantic aircraft has been recorded so far.