Virgin Atlantic is to move into the domestic market to rival British Airways for the first time on routes from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester to Heathrow it was announced today.
The move is bound to spark a new price war as the rivals battle for passengers. It is the first time the Crawley based airline has operated services within the UK.
The flying slots were available following the sale of BMI to IAG, the parent company of BA. A competition was held for an airline to run them and Virgin was today announced the winner.
Sir Richard Branson’s airline stated that its business case was based on one airline operating a package of remedy slots so it could mount a credible challenge to BA’s short haul flying to Heathrow.
Without the remedy slots, BA would continue to fly from Scotland to Heathrow uncontested but Virgin Atlantic said today that domestic flyers would now have a compelling alternative.
Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Exec, 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.
Over the next two weeks, Virgin Atlantic will work to finalise its plans for utilisation of the available remedy slots and to confirm a flying timetable. The airline will primarily focus on its flying between Scotland and Heathrow running multiple daily flights from Edinburgh and Aberdeen to London Heathrow.
Flights will commence around 31st March 2013 and complement the new Heathrow to Manchester route the airline is also introducing next year.
Virgin Atlantic will be working with a wet lease partner to provide narrow body Airbus A320 aircraft to operate the short haul flights.