Virgin Atlantic confirmed yesterday that it used a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to fly a solitary pilot to work at Manchester airport.

The long-haul carrier was due to fly 226 passengers non-stop between Heathrow and Boston last Friday.

But the service was delayed by 90 minutes after it was announced that the flight needed to make an unscheduled stop in Manchester to deliver a pilot to another aircraft.

The airline said yesterday that the move was necessary because a pilot who was ill had left the flight from Manchester to New York short of the required number of flight crew.

The Independent reported that the total bill for the flight was likely to be more than £10,000.

Virgin Atlantic refused to confirm the costs, saying that the figure was speculative.

A spokesman for the airline told the newspaper: “Unfortunately one of our pilots in Manchester fell unwell and therefore, rather than cancel a flight, we took the decision to take a pilot from our London Heathrow base to operate the aircraft.”