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."
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Tuesday afternoon's weather for the west of the region
Tuesday afternoon's weather for the east of the region
Two private citizens have already paid a "significant deposit" to take the week-long trip.