Virgin Atlantic Improves Online Strategy

Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, is currently revamping its Internet marketing strategy.

eDigitalResearch, a research specialist company offering insights to online communication, has recommended an upgraded Virgin Atlantic website as means of improving the online presence of the airline and customer satisfaction. The airline’s new website is presently offering major improvements in its design, functionality and usability, from the previous version.

Virgin Atlantic shares a long standing relationship with its research partners, eDigitalResearch, and has been using its insight tools, including HUB Panels and Communities, eDigitalSurveys, and eTravel Benchmark study to expand on its consumer insight, develop a loyal customer following, and compare online performance against competitors.

Fergus Boyd, the airline manager of e-business strategy, said, ‘At Virgin Atlantic we obsess about the voice of the customer and customer feedback. Our work with eDigitalResearch in general, and on our new website in particular at http://www.virginatlantic.com, has been instrumental in helping us measure the success of our new designs and improved customer experience.’

Derek Eccleston, eDigitalResearch head of research, said, ‘Listening to the voice of the customer and bringing feedback into the business is an integral part for any organisation looking to grow over coming months. By using a variety of our innovative insight tools, Virgin Atlantic is ensuring that it reaches a whole range of consumers, not just those that book through the site, and allows them to tap into what all customers are saying. The long-standing relationship between eDigitalResearch and Virgin Atlantic means that our insight professionals have a real understanding of key business objectives and work closely alongside each other to provide the most comprehensive, yet cost-effective, research solutions at our disposal.’

European Commission Releases Statement on bmi Sale

The European Commission (EC), the executive body for the European Union, has released a statement defending its decision to approve the sale of British Midland International (bmi), an airline owned by Germany-based Lufthansa, to British International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways.

Earlier Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, had announced its intention to appeal against the sale of bmi, although the sales process will not be affected by this appeal. Virgin Atlantic has claimed that the EC has approved the sale too quickly, and the 14 airport slots that BA are giving up at Heathrow airport, as a proviso of the £172.5 million deal, were insufficient to ensure healthy competition in the UK aviation market.

In a statement, the EC has clarified its stand by saying, ‘We are confident that the commitments proposed by IAG address all competition issues identified and we stand by our decision to clear the transaction subject to these conditions.

In this case, a decision was reached in 35 working days, which is not particularly fast. For example, out of 319 adopted merger and acquisition decisions in 2011, 98 percent were adopted within this timeframe.

Moreover, as described in our best practices guidelines, the commission held in-depth pre-notification contacts with the parties as early as November 2011, well before the notification took place on February 10, 2012.’

Virgin Atlantic will be able to appeal to the General Court of the EU within two months of publication of a full report by the EC on the sale of bmi to IAG.

Gatwick Airport Opens Runways as Normality Returns after Emergency Landing

London Gatwick Airport, considered to be London’s second airport after Heathrow, will be operating close to normal on April 17, 2012, following an emergency landing incident involving a Virgin Atlantic aircraft on Monday, April 16, 2012.

On Monday, a Virgin Atlantic aircraft made an emergency landing at the airport, following which the runway had to be closed to operations for several hours, as the aircraft’s passengers were evacuated and taken to safety. The aircraft was flying with its full capacity of 299 passengers and 13 crewmembers on board, and used its emergency chutes to evacuate all passengers to safety on landing.

The airport runways remained closed for several hours following the incident, and flights only resumed by 15:23 GMT for arrivals, and 16:00 GMT for departures. The airport has reported that around 26 flights were diverted and nine flights were cancelled due to the temporary closure of the airport.

In a official statement released later, the airport authorities said, ‘Following the incident earlier today when a Virgin flight bound for Orlando made an emergency landing, our main runway is now fully operational for departing and arriving flights. Passengers should expect some delays for the rest of Monday but disruptions are not expected to continue into Tuesday.

Virgin Atlantic, in a separate release, said, ‘Due to a technical problem onboard the aircraft, the captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic can confirm that all the passengers and crew have now safely disembarked. We can confirm that there have been four minor injuries.’