Virgin Atlantic set to fly between London and Manchester
Virgin Atlantic will start its first domestic service, between London and Manchester from the end of March 2013. Chief executive Steve Ridgway said this was in response to the takeover of bmi by IAG rather than Virgin Trains having lost the rail service between the two cities. BA had the only route between London and Manchester, since taking over bmi. Virgin wants to make “sure that BA doesn’t become a monopolist on all the routes bmi used to fly.” From March there will be 3 daily flights to Manchester using Airbus A319. Around 650,000 passengers fly between London and Manchester each year. Virgin already flies from Manchester to Barbados, Las Vegas and Orlando. Virgin may also use Heathrow slots for Scottish flights.
by David Hughes
Virgin Atlantic is set to launch its first domestic service, flying passengers between London and Manchester.
Chief executive Steve Ridgway said the move was in response to the takeover of bmi by British Airways’ parent company rather than Virgin Trains’ loss of the rail service between the two cities.
Flights between Heathrow and the North West will begin next spring using leased aircraft, Mr Ridgway said.
“Since bmi was swallowed up by British Airways, the competition that existed on domestic routes and European routes has disappeared,” he said.
“Virgin Atlantic has obviously provided great competition over the years internationally on the long-haul routes and this is about redressing that as part of the process of making sure that BA doesn’t become a monopolist on all the routes bmi used to fly.”
Mr Ridgway insisted that air travel was a “different market” from rail services between Manchester and London.
“With bmi disappearing off Manchester-London Heathrow, 650,000 passengers from Manchester that fly to Heathrow and then on to the rest of the world, to keep Manchester connected with the rest of the world, only have one choice now and that’s why Virgin Atlantic is responding to make sure that competition is preserved,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“There obviously will be some people who are flying direct to London to do business, but this is particularly about keeping Manchester and the North West connected with the rest of the world.”
The airline will operate three daily flights to Manchester using Airbus A319 aircraft from March 31 next year, the BBC reported.
Around 650,000 passengers travel between London and Manchester each year.
Virgin already flies from Manchester to Barbados and Las Vegas and to Orlando in Florida.
Manchester Airports Group chief commercial officer Ken O’Toole said today: “We are pleased to see Virgin Atlantic increasing their presence in Manchester and to see competition returning on the London route, as that will be to the benefit of passengers flying from our airport.”
Tickets for the new London-Manchester service went on sale today.
Virgin aims to connect Scottish airports with Heathrow
By PETER RANSCOMBE
21 August 2012 (Scotsman)
SIR Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airline is going head-to-head with arch-rival British Airways by launching its first domestic flights, and will step up the fight to launch services between Scottish airports and Heathrow.
Virgin this morning announced that it will begin services between Manchester and London from March and hopes to link Aberdeen and Edinburgh with Heathrow.
It said it will bid to take over slots on those routes, now available as a result of the IAG takeover.
It has appealed against the European Commission’s decision to approve the IAG takeover of BMI.
A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said the deal would limit consumer choice.
“We believe the deal will cause serious competitive harm at Heathrow, placing British Airways in a position of total market dominance at the world’s busiest airport, and completely eroding consumer choice.
“We will bid to operate all of the remedy slots that BA has been forced to give up through the process. We have made clear our commitment to operate on much of bmi’s existing network throughout.
“When BA holds 54% of the slots at Heathrow, the impacts of the deal are exacerbated. If there had been more room to grow there, we would have more opportunity to offer network competition to BA.
“Instead, we will fight hard to take on the remedy slots available in order to offer short-haul competition to BA for passengers flying from Scotland and elsewhere to London and beyond.
“The slots include services to Aberdeen and Edinburgh and Moscow.”
News of the move comes a week after Branson’s joint venture with Sir Brian Souter’s Perth-based Stagecoach Group, Virgin Trains, lost the west coast rail franchise, which runs between Glasgow, Manchester and London.
But Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said the move was in response to the takeover of BMI by British Airways’ parent company rather than Virgin Trains’ loss of the rail service between the two cities.
Ridgway said: “Since BMI was swallowed up by British Airways, the competition that existed on domestic routes and European routes has disappeared.
“Virgin Atlantic has obviously provided great competition over the years internationally on the long-haul routes and this is about redressing that as part of the process of making sure that BA doesn’t become a monopolist on all the routes BMI used to fly.”
The airline said the Manchester route was “the start of a new network” of city-to-city flights and connections to its long-haul services.