Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic is to start Manchester to Las Vegas services, it was announced today.

The twice-weekly services, using Boeing 747 jumbo jets, will begin on April 3, 2011.

Virgin already flies to Las Vegas from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

Virgin's chief executive Steve Ridgway said: "We are delighted to be able to announce direct services from Manchester to Las Vegas.

"The decision to expand our Manchester flying programme underlines our commitment to flying to long-haul destinations from regional airports in the UK and these Manchester flights will be a great addition to our current services."

Manchester Airport managing director Andrew Cornish said: "This is a welcome addition to their services to Barbados and Orlando."