Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, has acquired the London Heathrow Airport slots that were recently vacated by British Midland International (Bmi) airline, following Bmi’s acquisition by IAG, the parent company of British Airlines.
Virgin Atlantic has acquired all 12 of the available slots at London Heathrow Airport and will be using them to offer short distance flights to Scotland.
The airline chief executive officer, 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.’
The airline intends to offer its expanded operations to Scotland from March 2013, with a focus on the Edinburgh and Aberdeen routes that were previously served by Bmi. By offering to fly around 700,000 passengers every year from Scotland to London, Virgin Atlantic is offering competition to British Airways, which currently has a monopoly on the routes.
Ridgeway said, ‘Virgin Atlantic is totally committed to providing a competitive price and choice for passengers flying from Scotland to Heathrow and beyond.
At least 1.8 million Scottish passengers, equivalent to a third of the population, have been left without a choice on these routes since IAG’s takeover of bmi. As a monopoly operator, BA has the opportunity, the incentive and the means to increase fares and reduce the number of flights available.
As we shook up the status-quo in long haul travel nearly 30 years ago, we’re now doing all we can to have the same decisive impact on the short haul market. Our aim is to reach a significant new base of both direct and connecting passengers, and in doing so we intend to bring our award-winning service, competitive prices and greater choice to the Scottish travelling public.’