Virgin Atlantic hails record June performance by agents

Virgin Atlantic said travel agency sales in June surpassed those seen in 2019 and reached record levels.

Lee Haslett, Virgin Atlantic’s global sales vice-president, told a Travel Weekly webcast about how the carrier is recovering in both leisure and business sectors, and hailed the role of agents.

“In June, we were up versus 2019, we have set records across our commercial performance and records for travel agent performance with us,” he said.

“I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again. We really, really love travel agents and what you guys are doing for us – a record-breaking June, from a flown perspective, and looking at the early outcome of what July will look like, we’ll break the June record.”

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He said customers have been “starved of travel” for the past couple of years, so many of them want to “travel in style”, and sales have been strong for Upper Class and Premium cabins.

“Our premium leisure travel agency partners are doing a fantastic job,” he said.

“You take routes like Orlando, versus 2019, coming to this summer there are nearly 90% more Upper Class seats because of the new aircraft we put on them and they’re full. It is phenomenal to see.

“Corporate recovery is well above expectations, as well, so there is certainly demand for Upper Class seats but also premium economy…it’s one of our signature products and people absolutely love it and we’re seeing, from premium economy to Upper Class, really strong business.”

He was speaking after the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards, at which the airline was headline sponsor. During the event, the carrier unveiled initiatives such as a new trade loyalty scheme and a sales partnership with Virgin Hotels.

“It is the first time an airline and hotel company are working together to deliver their commercial sales efforts,” he said.

“What a fantastic proposition – when you are selling flights to New York, why not add a hotel?”

Other Virgin Atlantic news revealed during the week of the awards included details about features on its new Airbus A330neo aircraft (pictured) and the appointment of two senior account managers for the leisure team.

Cruise expert Melanie Wood joins from Cruise1st, based in Manchester, and Sarah Finch is joining from internet provider OGI, to look after accounts in Wales and London.

Haslett said cruise is a “key segment”, adding: “Cruise agencies have done phenomenal business with us.”

The new Virgin Hotels partnership will mean the team will also recruit a dedicated sales director.

“The team is growing; it’s great to see, and it’s based on the support we get from travel agents,” said Haslett.

He also said he hopes agent partners will be able to join the inaugural celebration flight on the new Tampa service, starting on November 3.

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