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TPA, Virgin Atlantic celebrate launch of new London Heathrow service

The flight is Tampa International Airport's second route to London and its first nonstop flight to Heathrow Airport.

TAMPA, Fla. — Officials from Tampa International Airport, along with Virgin Atlantic, gathered together Wednesday to celebrate the first flight of the airline's newest year-round trip to London's hub airport.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was present at the celebration after making a trip over to Tampa and arriving in a plane.

"Incredibly proud of what all the team has done," Branson said when talking at a press conference with TPA.

The flight is the first major international route with a premium carrier for the Tampa Bay area, TPA said in an earlier news release

The nonstop flights will also feature Virgin Atlantic's new A330-900neo, which is the first of 16 Airbus A330neo widebody aircraft to be used by the U.K-based airline. 

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor also was in attendance and made sure to tell people how exciting of a day it was for the city.

"It is a very, very exciting time for us and for the airport and the entire Tampa Bay area," she said. "Thank you all for choosing Tampa, we appreciate it."

Service for the new international route will start at four flights per week before allowing daily flights year-round starting on Nov. 28. Tampa will be Virgin Atlantic's third destination in Florida behind Miami and Orlando.

Flights are on sale now here.

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