Virgin Atlantic announced this week that they will cease flying between Heathrow and Dubai early next year.

The airline said in a statement that the service was being withdrawn “due to to a combination of external factors which mean it is no longer economically viable.” The last flight will depart on March 31 2019.

The route was launched in a blaze of publicity in March 2006 and is a popular destination for British holidaymakers every year with over 1.5 million tourists from the UK visiting the desert city. However, increased competition from the UAE’s national carrier Emirates and British Airways has forced Virgin’s hand.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It‘s never an easy decision to withdraw a route, and we’d like to thank our customers and dedicated team in Dubai for their loyalty over the last 12 years. We’ll continue to offer daily flights between Dubai and London Heathrow until 31 March 2019, and will be sad to say goodbye to this fantastic city.”