Virgin Atlantic is deploying new Airbus A330neo aircraft on its first flights from London to Tampa Bay in Florida.
The latest addition to the fleet will initially serve the route from Heathrow four times a week, rising to a daily service from November 28.
The Tampa route complements the airline’s flights to Miami and Orlando in Florida and follows the introduction of a direct serve to Austin, Texas in May.
The latest destination was described as “cementing the USA as Virgin Atlantic’s heartland”.
The airline’s expanded joint venture with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM means passengers across the US and Europe will be able to connect onto the new service via Heathrow.
The airline’s Upper Class cabin on the A330 includes 30 new seats, two Retreat Suites, 46 premium seats, 28 Economy Delight and 156 economy, with return fares starting at £440.
Airline founder Sir Richard Branson led the carrier’s executives on the inaugural flight on Wednesday.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said: “Today is a significant milestone in Virgin Atlantic’s continued growth, as we get back to our best for our customers and people.
“The USA is our heartland and Florida has an important role in our American portfolio, so I’m delighted to be bolstering connectivity to the region with the only direct flight to London Heathrow.
“It’s also fitting that our new route will enjoy our newest aircraft, the A330neo.
“This plane has evolved our customer experience, with every traveller receiving a premium experience regardless of the cabin they travel in.
“It also plays a significant role in our multi billion dollar fleet transformation, demonstrating our commitment to the planet.
“We know the most impactful thing we can do as an airline is to fly the cleanest, greenest, youngest fleet possible and the A330neo is integral to achieving this goal.”
Visit Tampa Bay president and chief executive Santiago Corrada said: “We are looking forward to welcoming even more international travellers from across the UK and Europe into the region to see everything we have to offer from our wide range of hotels, Michelin recommended restaurants and stellar attractions.”