Flights between Heathrow and the North West will begin next spring using leased aircraft, Mr Ridgway said. Mr Ridgway insisted that air travel was a "different market" from rail services between Manchester and London.
"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."
More top news
A study by the University of Oxford forecasts an increase of more than half a million foreign-born people in England between 2011 and 2014.
A teenager who carried out a prolonged, random attack on a man sleeping in bed has been jailed.
Friday morning's forecast for the east of the region