Virgin Atlantic has secured all of the Heathrow slots freed up by the purchase of Bmi by BA’s parent company International Airlines Group.
The carrier had argued that all of the remedy slots would need to go to one carrier so that it could “mount a credible challenge to BA’s short haul flying to Heathrow”.
Virgin says it will finalise plans for the utilisation of the slots “over the next two weeks”, and says it will “primarily focus on its flying between Scotland and Heathrow running multiple daily flights from Edinburgh and Aberdeen to London Heathrow”.
The agreement reached on remedy slots when IAG purchased Bmi meant that a number of Heathrow slots were given up to destinations including Scotland, Moscow, Nice, Cairo and Riyadh. It's not clear whether Virgin would also seek to launch services to destinations outside the UK using the newly-acquired slots.
The carrier will use wet-leased Airbus A320 aircraft, and says it will “be revealing specific details of its short haul product and famed on board customer experience in the coming months”.
In August Virgin announced it would launch flights between Heathrow and Manchester in spring 2013 (see online news August 21).
Announcing the news Virgin’s CEO Steve Ridgway said:
“We have fought hard for the right to fly short haul and take a strong challenge to British Airways within these shores. For 28 years both airlines have battled for customers all over the world and it has meant that British consumers have ultimately had some of the world’s best flying and lowest fares.
“This is the beginning of an exciting new era in Virgin Atlantic history and we now feel a responsibility to everyone that has supported us in this challenge.
"Passengers can look forward to a great short haul service with us but most importantly reap the benefits from the re-injection of vital competition we can provide on these routes.”
For more information visit virginatlantic.com.
Report by Mark Caswell
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