Sir Richard Branson touched down at Detroit Metropolitan Airport last week with an aircraft full of Virgin Atlantic customers to celebrate the launch of our services between London Heathrow and Detroit.
Launched on the 1st June 2015, this flight makes us the only British airline to operate the route, joining our partner Delta Air Lines which started services to the city from Heathrow in 2008. We expect to fly around 155,000 passengers annually between London and Detroit with many choosing to connect onto Delta services to destinations throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Guests onboard included the cast of Motown: The Musical, which recently announced it will open in London in 2016. Ten cast members took to the aisles to sing some of Motown’s biggest hits such as Get Ready, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Do You Love Me and a Supremes medley. The cabin crew joined in with some of the dance steps, whilst Richard Branson himself was seen to showcase some of his finest moves.
Passengers rose up in the aisles dancing along to the tracks and getting into the spirit of Detroit ahead of the aircraft landing. The video below perfectly captures their surprised reactions as the cast begins singing and moving down the cabins with an impromptu set.
It was in Detroit where the famous Motown label was founded back in 1959, launching the careers of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 and many, many more. “Detroit is known as the home of Motown and it was fantastic to have the cast onboard getting everyone up dancing in the aisles,” said Reuben Arnold, our senior vice president of Marketing and Customer Experience.
“Our customers really enjoyed the surprise performance and it was a great way to celebrate the launch of our new service. Although famous for its musical heritage, Detroit has probably become better known for its recent financial trouble. However, the city is enjoying recent resurgence and we’re really excited to be part of its future”.
Alongside the airline’s famous cabin crew, Richard posed for photographs in front of one of Virgin Atlantic’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 named “Dream Jeannie”.
Wearing a ‘Detroit hustles harder’ t-shirt from local retailer Division Street Boutique, Richard spoke at a press conference on arrival. “I am fascinated by this city and personally really looking forward to exploring it. It’s had some tough times but it’s on its way back up and everyone at Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be part of its future,” he said. “The creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Detroit and its people is something very close to my heart. I’m looking forward to meeting some aspiring businessmen and women whilst I’m here and learning about what they are looking to do and trying to help in any way I can”.
During his stay, Richard hosted an event at the College for Creative Studies where some of Detroit’s most exciting start-ups pitched their ideas to him and some of the best business minds in the city. Richard also spent some time exploring the area on a bike tour led by Slow Roll founder Jason Hall and hosted an event at The Fillmore. He also threw the first pitch at the Tigers vs Indians game at Comerica Park on Friday.
Return Economy fares from London Heathrow to Detroit start from £609 per person. The route is operated in conjunction with joint venture partner Delta Air Lines, which also offers daily flights between the two cities. Between us we now operate up to 39 daily flights across the Atlantic including 10 daily flights between London Heathrow and New York City. The joint schedule also includes up to four flights from Heathrow to Delta’s home airport, Atlanta, in addition to our new daily flights to Detroit. These hubs offer easy connectivity to more than 200 US destinations as far apart as Savannah and Sacramento.