Varsity Express launches Oxford-Edinburgh service

Regional start-up carrier Varsity Express is to launch a daily weekday service between London Oxford and Edinburgh airports this March.

The new airline will ply the route with 18-seater BAE Jetstream 31 aircraft, offering “a business class style service”, with complimentary tea, coffee and water, plus “a small snack”. Further onboard refreshments will also be available for purchase.

From March 1 flight LNQ601 will depart Oxford at 0800 Monday-Friday, arriving in Edinburgh at 0930, with the return leg LNQ602 leaving Edinburgh at 1700, landing back in Oxford at 1830.

To celebrate the launch the carrier is offering one-way fares on all seats for £49, for flights between March 1 and March 12. After this lead-in fares will still be available at this price, with flexible fares from £149.

Varsity Express says that the Oxford-Edinburgh route “will be the first of a number of planned domestic routes over the coming year”. London Oxford Airport is located around seven miles north of Oxford, and around 60 miles from central London.

For more information visit flyvarsity.com. The carrier will also be promoting its services and special offers on Twitter at twitter.com/varsityexpress.

Report by Mark Caswell


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  • Hard to imagine what they mean when they talk of a ‘business-class style service’ on a Jetsteam 31. This is a small and pretty cramped aircraft. No overhead lockers at all, so I guess they’ll have to impose a minimal hand luggage rule. And if they charge for an orange juice (as their publicity seems to imply), then I cannot see what is remotely business class about their venture.

    I am Edinburgh based, and yes I do go the Oxford area on business. Alternate Wednesdays to Banbury. Flying to Birmingham, it is an easy day trip. Or I often train it. As this new airline has only one flight a day, it would mean flying down Tuesday evening, back Thursday morning, so two nights accommodation. I also use the Caledonian Sleeper service a lot. Very comfortable. But Edinburgh to Oxford on a Jetstream 31 I rate as a non-starter.

    And I don’t know where they got those train fares from that they use in their publicity to show how the plane is good value. They seem way more than anything I have ever paid. And I admit I always pay top whack. Usually about 100 return standard class. They say the train is over 300 standard class return. That is just way out.

  • Like EdinburghMan says, this isn’t the right aircraft for the route. We’ve long known that OXF-EDI was one of the best untapped routes in the UK. But our analysis shows a 75-seat prop, operating on a double daily service would serve the routes catchment much more effectively. I wish Varsity well, but hope they have invested in route profitability (or break even) analysis as much as a reliable ACMI deal.
    Jon, aviationanalytics.com

  • Like all the other commentators I’ve yet to use this service but as someone who does this trip 6-8 times a year from Heathrow I’m prepared to buy an orange juice and put my luggage in the hold just to give it a chance to prove it’s worth. If Oxford can handle larger planes, and I’m no expert on that, I would imagine it will be a very popular point from which to launch oneself to the Scottish capital.

  • I have to say that this aircraft will not be popular. It is quite the wrong type for the routes they plan. Other similar plans have been scrapped. The initial fares are good but when it all settles down the proposed fares will frighten people off. There is no hold for baggage but there was a bin capable of being attached as a belly hold – otherwise all baggage is carried inside the aircraft in small area behind a net. After the initial excitement is over I am afraid the prospects are not good. Shame really, the route might be good but the distances from Oxford to………..are iffy! I think Mr Halstead’s past efforts leave no room to suggest that this operation will be any better than his other attempts to run an airline.

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