Virgin Atlantic will withdraw routes to Cape Town, Mumbai, Tokyo and Vancouver as part of a strengthened emphasis on transatlantic flights – but hints that it could resume the axed services if a new runway is built at London Heathrow airport.

The UK carrier plans to stop flights to Mumbai and Toyko Narita on 31 January 2015, and says it will not renew seasonal services to Vancouver after October 2014 and to Cape Town as of 26 April.

But the airline says that if Heathrow "gains its long overdue expansion, Virgin Atlantic would love to re-enter Tokyo, Cape Town, Mumbai and Vancouver". Chief executive Craig Kreeger has previously said he favours a third runway being built at Heathrow as a way of increasing capacity at London's airports.

Virgin Atlantic meanwhile intends to strengthen its North American services next year, in co-operation with equity partner Delta Air Lines.

It will take over the US carrier's summer seasonal Heathrow-Detroit service and turn it into a year-round operation. An extra daily service from Heathrow to Los Angeles will be added in 2015, as will an additional daily service during the summer season from London to Atlanta.

A fifth weekly frequency between London and San Francisco is to be operated in the summer season. An extra daily service between Heathrow and Miami is also planned, but is subject to regulatory approval.

Following a transfer of operations with Delta, Virgin Atlantic will fly a daily service between Manchester and Atlanta, and Delta one of the UK carrier's existing Heathrow-Newark services.

Virgin Atlantic says the changes are part of a new strategy under which it aims to become profitable by the end of 2014 and "grow to record levels of sustained profitability by 2018".

Source: Cirium Dashboard