Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd will be operating Heathrow routes to two Scottish cities, Edinburgh and Aberdeen after being offer take-off and landing slots at the Heathrow airport. British Airways was made to relinquish these slots after the successful acquisition of BMI by International Consolidated Airlines Group, S.A.
Virgin routes to Scotland
The slots at the Heathrow Airport were released to the other carrier by regulators as a condition of the finalization of the £186 million acquisition of BMI by IAG. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd bid successfully for these slots which had been operated by British Midland International. Regulators also underlined that slots for links to Cairo and Moscow were also to be released. European competition regulators forced British Airways to relinquish as many as 14 slot pairs. On these routes British Airways and BMI had been competing as well.
According to a statement, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd is to launch the new services from the end of March 2013. The exact timetable is expected to be released in two weeks. In addition, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd will lease Airbus A320 to use it on its new routes between the Heathrow Airport and two Scottish cities. Airbus A320 usually has seats for as many as 150 passengers. Analysts are, however, skeptical about new short-haul flights of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd as BMI struggled and profits are hard to achieve.
Yet routes between the Heathrow Airport and two Scottish cities are not the first initiative of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd when it comes to short-haul flights. Just in August the company announced regular flights between the Heathrow Airport and Manchester. In addition, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd is to start flights to Nice. But the company also awaits negotiations with the European Union regulators as well as the Civil Aviation Authority so to ascribe the slot pairs designated for the capital of Russia.
Steve Ridgway, chief executive officer at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, underlined the significance of gaining slots at the Heathrow Airport by stating: "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."
Virgin in the Scottish Air
The emergence of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd in the Scottish air certainly will mean reaping the benefits from the greater competition in that particular market. Without a doubt the new short-haul flights will sharpen the rivalry between Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd and British Airways, which dates back nearly 30 years ago. They have been using price wars and allegations just to destroy each other.
Scottish travel agents as well as business groups have welcome the news on the new air carrier entering the Scottish air as it means a growing competition. In addition, the emergence of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd in Scotland means the creation of thousands of new posts. As it was underlined by Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd aimed at taking as much as 40 percent of British Airways passengers on its new Scottish routes. Therefore passengers will be given choice in terms of routes as well as carriers.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd is strongly convinced that entering Scottish routes means a new age in the company's history.