Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Craig Kreeger has confirmed the UK carrier has transferred one of its four daily London Heathrow-New York JFK return services to equity partner Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) as of Thursday, October 12.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Kreeger said the switch, which will run until October 31, will allow Virgin to gradually ground part of its fleet of fourteen B787-9s while repairs to the aircraft's Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powerplants are undertaken.

“It’s a substitution that gives us a little bit more resilience as we’ve had some parts issues with our 787 engines,” he said. “This ensures that we’ll have sufficient capacity. It’s circumstantial, it’s not a strategy.”

Rolls-Royce announced in August that up to 500 Trent 1000s worldwide would require additional maintenance to resolve wear issues affecting their fan blades.

For its part, Delta is substituting the Virgin B787-9s with B767 and possibly B777 equipment.