Virgin Atlantic Reveals Plan for Massive Expansion

by Daine Taylor
Virgin Atlantic Reveals Plan for Massive Expansion

Photo: Virgin Atlantic 


Virgin Atlantic made a huge announcement earlier this week when it revealed its plan to challenge British Airways for dominance at London’s Heathrow Airport, as well as significantly increasing its long-haul route network, and launching a new comprehensive suite of domestic and European route offerings when the airport expands. 

Currently, British Airways’ parent company IAG holds a near-monopoly on Heathrow Airport, controlling more than half of the airport’s total capacity. According to a statement from Virgin Atlantic, a new report published last week found one in four passengers flying from the airport – 18.5 million people – have no choice but to fly with the IAG airline group. The report also concluded that these passengers may be paying up to 10% more in air fares as a consequence.

Virgin hopes to break up IAG’s control over Heathrow when its proposed expansion to a third runway is completed. Currently, Virgin services 19 long-haul destinations from Heathrow. But if the airline gets its way, it will serve up to 84 new destinations in the UK, Europe, and across the globe — quadrupling the number of routes offered.

“Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens of thousands of travelers,” said Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, referencing the recent pilot strikes that plagued British Airways earlier this month. 

“Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice, and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands,” Weiss said.

Improving competition and connectivity
The UK government has set a primary objective for the allocation of additional Heathrow capacity to facilitate effective competition between airlines. The expansion, in addition to benefitting consumers by providing more choices and lower fares, will also serve to improve domestic and international connectivity for destinations that are currently underserved or unserved.

Virgin Atlantic’s new proposed route network plans enable the government to meet all of these objectives by bringing new competition across multiple domestic, European, and global routes, as well as opening up brand-new destinations. Virgin intends to become the UK’s second flag carrier, connecting passengers between its domestic, short- and long-haul services.

“Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier. This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world,” said Weiss.

The plans represent a fourfold increase on Virgin Atlantic’s current international network and include connections to unserved destinations such as Kolkata (India), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Panama City (Panama), where currently passengers cannot travel non-stop. In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long-haul destinations, up from 19 long-haul destinations in 2020. Of the 84 new destinations planned, 12 are domestic, including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester; 37 are European, including Barcelona, Dublin, and Madrid; and 35 are global, including Buenos Aires, Jakarta, and Kunming. 

The rules governing the allocation of new slots for Heathrow are currently under review by the government, but Virgin warns that the new take-off and landing slots must be allocated in such a way that enables the development of a second flag carrier with the necessary scale to compete effectively with IAG. 

As things currently stand, IAG holds more than 55% of all the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, with no other single airline holding more than 5% of the remaining slots. Virgin Atlantic intends to compete on 25 routes where there is an IAG monopoly. 

“Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive,” said Weiss.

  0
  0
TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
State Department: American Tourists Died of Natural Causes in Dominican Republic

Findings from the FBI are consistent with what local Dominican authorities determined to be the true causes of the fatalities.

Delta Launches Subscription Service, SkyMiles Select

The program offers travel perks — including early boarding — for an annual fee.

Airline Ticket Prices Reached Record Low This Month

Now is the perfect time to book your client's next vacation, as October airfares are the cheapest they have been in six years, according to The Consumer Airfare Index.

Canada Warns Travelers to Exercise Caution with High-Pressure Timeshare Sales

The Government of Canada reminds travelers to do their homework when considering buying a timeshare in Mexico.

Top 10 Spookiest American Towns to Visit for Halloween

Whether you’re looking for haunted houses, freaky festivals, or other spooky spots, here are the best locations for Halloween travelers.

Venice's Tourism Tax Will Start Next Year

In an effort to curtail the effects of overtourism, Venice’s tourism tax will be used to offset the high charges locals pay for public services.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

"I didn’t understand that they could access these amenities through the buying power of these networks they join. I didn’t realize that an agent could open doors that I couldn’t."

Julia Glum

Money Magazine

Daily Top List

Best Hotels in Detroit

  1. Detroit Foundation Hotel
  2. The Townsend Hotel
  3. MGM Grand Detroit
  4. The Royal Park Hotel
  5. The Henry, Autograph Collection

Source: US News

TMR Outlooks