Virgin Atlantic announced plans Monday to begin offering direct flights to Austin.

virginatlantic on Twitter: “Saddle up, Lone Star State – Virgin Atlantic is coming. Direct flights to Austin, the capital of Texas, start 25th May 2022 🇺🇸 / Twitter”

Saddle up, Lone Star State – Virgin Atlantic is coming. Direct flights to Austin, the capital of Texas, start 25th May 2022 🇺🇸

“Austin, you’ve got the  #greenlight  to travel in style to the UK from May 25th as I am THRILLED to announce that Virgin Atlantic will be launching services from Austin to London,” Simon Hawkins, head of Virgin Atlantic North America, posted to LinkedIn.

“I’m personally a huge fan of Austin and have called it a second home with so many friends moving there in recent years,” Hawkins wrote. “I’m incredibly excited to bring a splash of red to this innovative city and up the airline game along with our partners Air France KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Delta Air Lines in 2022.”

Virgin Atlantic is a British airline founded by billionaire Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin Atlantic’s direct flights to Austin come nearly 8 years after British Airways began offering direct flights and cargo service from Austin to London. British Airways touted its luxury service on its Dreamliner aircraft when it launched in 2014. British Airways offers direct service from Austin to London three days a week on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday on its 787 Dreamliner. It also offers cargo service.

The Austin to London direct route is Virgin Atlantic’s first new route to the U.S. since 2015.

And the new flights come as the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to loosen its grip on the Texas, U.S., and U.K. economies. Even though the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has been wreaking havoc with the economy for the past two months, and Austin is in Stage 5 restrictions from COVID infections some think the worst may be behind the U.S. and the world.

Virgin Atlantic will provide four times a week service, launching on May 25th on the airline’s 787-9 aircraft. Economy tickets start at $555 per person, premium from $965, and upper class at $2,322 per person.

“Austin is the fourth most populated city in the state, with 29 million residents and 7.7million passengers traveling through the airport in 2019,” according to a Virgin Atlantic news release. “The city is known as the “live music capital of the world” and is famed for its art and foodie scene as well as a wide range of outdoor activities. To capitalize on the increased leisure tourism to the region, Virgin Atlantic Holidays will be launching a holiday portfolio in Austin and throughout Texas including hotels and fly-drive holidays.”

In making its announcement, Virgin Atlantic also cited Austin’s booming tech hub “with businesses such as Apple, Tesla, Facebook, IBM, and Oracle all opening up bases, giving the city the nickname “Silicon Hills”. 

This booming region is a key focus for Virgin Atlantic and its expanded joint venture partners, with Delta Air Lines offering connections from Austin to 10 US cities, Seattle, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Raleigh Durham, JFK. KLM also looks forward to launching three-times-weekly services from Amsterdam to Austin on 28th March 2022 offering even more choice for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the US and Europe. 

Virgin Atlantic is also offering cargo capacity on each flight.

“We are incredibly excited to launch this new service to Austin, Texas,” Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said in a news release. “ With an impressive food, arts, and music scene, we know it’s a destination our customers will love to explore.”

“The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984,” Jarvinen said. “Since US borders opened to UK travelers on 8 November, it feels extra special to be launching new flying, especially to the fantastic city of Austin.”