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Virgin Atlantic and Food Made Good are raising the bar for sustainable airline meals and are delighted to announce that Virgin Atlantic’s major UK and US catering partner, Gate Gourmet, fully meets the airline’s aspirational new standards.
Two years ago, we announced an industry-first by partnering with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to set a new standard for airline food quality and sustainability with their programme, now named Food Made Good. Together, we are now shaking up the industry once again by setting nine specific standards for our catering suppliers, in addition to obtaining a Food Made Good One Star Rating. These expectations not only focus on the quality of product and value for money, but ensure that Virgin Atlantic and our suppliers are making ethical and sustainable choices
At the beginning of our initial audit in 2014 just a few caterers were conforming to some of the new standards. UK and US caterers, Gate Gourmet which represent 68% of all Virgin Atlantic flights, now fully meet these standards.
Reuben Arnold, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Customer Experience, said: “Our vision is to be the leading airline on sustainability, while giving our customer a great experience. The benefits and impact will go beyond offering our customers the finest food and drink possible. By requiring new standards and transparency in our supply chains, we have kicked off the transformation of worldwide airline catering, as well as increasing the demand and stimulating markets for more sustainable products.”
Since the partnership began with The Sustainable Restaurant Association, the programme has had a real impact.
- The airline has been working with Fairtrade India to finance the development of the country’s first Fairtrade banana cooperative, helping to develop and expand a domestic Indian market for Fairtrade products.
- UK catering partner Gate Gourmet used the standards to inform the development of its own sustainable procurement policy. In doing so, it has started to build sustainability capacity in its supply chain by, for example, requiring salmon suppliers to work with the ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) to improve standards and achieve certification.
- Virgin Atlantic has become a member of Roundtable on Responsible Soy and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and procured sustainable soy and palm credits equivalent to the total quantity used throughout its supply chain. This ensures support for sustainable soy and palm farmers and an investment in the future of the sustainable soy and palm markets.
The programme is continuing to make real progress and it is anticipated that over the next year, all in-flight catering will meet our new standards.
Our standards for catering suppliers focus on ethical sourcing, deforestation risk, commodities and clear-labelling. These are:
1. Fairtrade: When buying in single ingredients, all fresh fruit, cocoa, fruit juice, herbs, sugar, spices plus tea and coffee must be Fairtrade or equivalent certified.
2. Rainforest Alliance: Any product on the ‘Deforestation Danger’ list should either be purchased from a non-rainforest risk location or purchased with Rainforest Alliance or equivalent certification.
3. Palm oil: We want to remove palm oil where possible. Where not possible we will only use Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified products or hold sustainable soy credits equivalent to the quantity used.
4. Soy: We want to remove soy where possible. Where not possible we will only use Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) certified products or hold sustainable palm credits equivalent to the quantity used.
5. Sustainable fish and seafood: All wild capture seafood must be Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified (or equivalent). Farmed fish should be Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) (or equivalent) certified.
6. Animal welfare: All meat (poultry, beef and pork), dairy and eggs must be from livestock that receives humane treatment and certified to a welfare standard that at minimum meets the Five Freedoms.
7. Genetically Modified Foods: All produce that is genetically modified and products that contain genetically modified ingredients must be clearly labelled as such wherever possible.
8. Halal: Caterers operating from Muslim countries will provide halal meals as standard, with non-halal meals on request. Caterers operating from non-Muslim countries will provide non-halal as standard, with halal on request.
9. International Labour Organisation: All of our caterers’ recruitment and employment practices must adhere to the International Labour Organisation’s four fundamental principles and rights at work.
At Virgin Atlantic, we are constantly looking for new ways to make your flying experience even more enjoyable, and that’s why we want to let you know about Headspace. If you haven’t already heard of it, you soon will. Co-founded in 2010 by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, Headspace is an app that aims to improve your health and happiness and asks people to set aside a little time for their minds. And we think it’s a perfect for flying.
A skill for life
Think of it like a gym membership for the mind, with Andy as your personal trainer. Although he won’t shout at you or make you sweat, it could still be seriously beneficial for your health.
Based on the techniques that Andy learnt in Asia, during the decade he spent there as a fully-ordained monk, this app teaches you the skills of meditation and mindfulness in as little as ten minutes a day.
There’s a growing body of evidence that supports meditation’s effectiveness. In fact, in more than 2000 scientific papers, it’s been shown to improve focus and reduce stress.
As Andy puts it, ‘The reality is that as human beings we all struggle with the mind sometimes, no matter who we are, what we do, or where we live. Meditation simply offers us a way to enrich those aspects of life which already make us happy and to cope better with those aspects which we find difficult.’
Perfect for flying
Of course, it’s one thing to read about meditation, but nothing can compare to first-hand experience. You don’t need any prior knowledge to get going with Headspace, all you need is a little time and a quiet place to sit.
That’s what makes your Virgin flight the perfect place to give it a try. Just close your eyes, put on your headphones and let Andy guide through a range of meditations, specially-designed with Virgin flyers in mind.
Some of them have an immediate application, helping you get off to sleep, or helping calm nervous flyers, while others have been created with a longer term goal, like helping you make the most of every precious moment of your trip once you’ve touched down, or laying the foundation for a daily meditation practice.
Andy often likens the calm quality of the mind to the blue sky (opens in a new window) you see when your plane passes above cloud level. Could your next Virgin trip be your chance to experience that for yourself?
Where to get it
The free Headspace app is available in Apple Store (opens in a new window) or Google Play (opens in a new window) has now been downloaded more than three million times and boasts a celebrity following that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Watson and Jared Leto, to name just a few. In the words of Emma Watson ‘it’s kind of genius.’
And best of all, the Headspace starter course, Take10, is completely free. Why not download it and get started before you fly?
Chill out in our new LA Clubhouse
We’re excited to announce that we have opened a new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (opens in a new window) at Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 2. It’s the perfect space for customers to relax, take in the views and indulge in delicious food and drink before they fly.
Boasting a distinctly Southern Californian, our new clubhouse puts a nice spin on the warmth and individuality that Virgin Atlantic is known for. The décor reflects the city’s warm sunsets, laid back lifestyle, mountain backdrops, flowing surf and sculpted surfaces. From the reception area, the calm, cleansing environment envelops you, sheltering you from airport bustle.
What’s more, we’ve commissioned art pieces for our lounge space. Digital media artist Diana Reichenbach has created a beautiful immersive media installation, while British artist Vic Lee, has hand drawn a wall space and says, “My work is a mix of typography, passion, charm and beautification. I call it Wall Tattoos. Bespoke expressions to illuminate and elevate, smile and lose yourself in.”
Escape the crowds in our Hong Kong Clubhouse
Our newly refurbished Clubhouse (opens in a new window) is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. It provides an airy, open-plan space with an exciting TV wall, as well as comfortable and stylish armchairs and footstools throughout. Stepping inside feels like entering an oasis of serenity.
These days we just expect to be connected 24/7, so it should please our flyers to know that we are rolling out WiFi connectivity across our fleet.
Currently available on all our 787s and three of the A330s, these aircrafts now provide flyers affordable connectivity for their devices.
Over the coming months we will be adding internet connectivity to the rest of the fleet. Three aircrafts will be completed by Christmas, while the remaining aircrafts will be finished by the end of 2016.
Also, our A346s will soon be upgrading their Economy seats, which will allow for both in-seat power as well as connectivity. This is great news for passengers, who are, more and more, bringing their own devices onboard and looking to stay powered up during the flight.
With our partner Delta Air Lines®, we're delighted to be starting our summer schedule. It now offers up to 39 return flights a day between the UK and 15 destinations across North America. And it’s making for a jam-packed summer of news, so here goes…
More choice to New York
Our joint schedule with Delta means we can tailor our service to meet demand better. The schedule includes ten daily flights between London Heathrow and New York: eight to New York-JFK and two to Newark. When you’re flying from JFK and London Heathrow, you’ll benefit from a ‘memory’ schedule of regular evening departures. So you can be flexible if meetings run over or you’d like to head to the UK early. In addition, Delta is also now flying between Manchester and New York JFK.
Meanwhile we're taking over Delta’s Manchester to Atlanta service, offering even more seats on this popular route.
Another flight and an LA Clubhouse
We’re also launching a second daily service between Heathrow and Los Angeles to meet demand. Together with Delta, it means we'll be offering three daily flights between London and the City of Angels, carrying close to 400,000 passengers a year on the route. It’s also the perfect time to fly from LA, as we’ve also just opened a fantastic California-inspired Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX.
Second daily services added
We’ve already launched our second daily summer service between Heathrow and Atlanta. And the second service between Heathrow and San Francisco we’re currently operating five days a week over the summer is also due to become a year round, daily service in October. October is also the month we’re launching our second daily service to Miami.
Delta flies to Philly
We’re also really excited to announce that Delta have launched a new nonstop, daily service from London Heathrow to Philadelphia as part of our partnership. It’ll be Delta’s ninth destination to the US from Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic, direct to Detroit
With a daily service from London Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic is now the only British airline to fly direct to Detroit. A fascinating, energetic city in its own right, Detroit is also perfect for connecting onto Delta’s services to a huge range of other US cities including New Orleans, St Louis, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and Nashville.
More choice from closer to home
To make it easier for our customers to jet off from where they’re based, we’re offering special seasonal services this year from airports outside the south east. There’s Belfast to Orlando in June and July and Glasgow to Las Vegas in September and October.
Back to Tobago
We’ve also starting flying to the southern Caribbean island of Tobago again. We now offer weekly departures between March and October, and twice weekly departures the rest of the year. So you fly direct to St Lucia, then continue to Tobago after a short stop.
Our 2015 Sustainability Report has been released and reveals a 12% decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions since 2007, showing increased profitability and reduced environmental impact can go hand in hand. The report covers progress against our eight environment and community investment work streams. As well as updating on progress against our targets, it highlights some of the great initiatives are people are working on across the business. It also reports on the £1.4 million distributed by the Virgin Atlantic Foundation in 2014 and fantastic work with Free The Children.
Read more in the report here (opens in a new window).
The very first Virgin Hotel in Chicago was designed to create a sweeping sense of innovation, style and home. Guided by Virgin’s culture of fairness and personalized treatment, this is more than a lifestyle hotel – it’s an entirely new way to stay over.
We are pleased to annouce our newest partner, Rocketmiles, a hotel booking website and app that awards 500 to 5,000 Flying Club miles per night, for stays at thousands of properties worldwide. And as a welcome offer, you'll receive 3,000 bonus miles on your first booking with Rocketmiles.