LONDON, ENGLAND - Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, the UK carrier controlled by billionaire Richard Branson, will scrap in-flight manicures and massages offered to premium passengers in favour of more beauty services at its lounges.
Virgin said last month it was conducting a review of its onboard beauty therapists, who have provided treatments to travellers flying 'Upper Class' since 1990, as airlines attempt to trim costs amid rising oil prices. The carrier employs about 300 therapists on routes to and from London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest.
The introduction of flatbed seats on aircraft means more passengers are sleeping on transatlantic flights, making onboard beauty treatments less popular, according to the London- based airline.
The opening of a new Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow in 2006 also means customers are able to get more complex treatments such as pedicures, facials and spray-on tans.
'In the air we have decided to cease our In-Flight Beauty Therapy service,' Mr Branson said in a statement e-mailed to customers on Wednesday.
'Since we introduced the Cowshed spa and 'Bumble and Bumble' salon in the Heathrow Clubhouse, passengers have told us they prefer the more comprehensive treatments on the ground.'
Airlines have been struggling to control costs amid record oil prices.
South Africa's Nationwide Airlines halted operations on Wednesday as fuel-cost increases and flight suspensions added to losses.
Eos Airways, which plied an all business-class service between London and New York, last month became the fifth US carrier to seek bankruptcy since March 20.
The in-flight beauty therapists will be offered positions as cabin crew or as beauticians at the airline's lounges, Virgin said. -- Bloomberg