Virgin Atlantic announced (20-Aug-2012) plans to launch three times daily London Heathrow-Manchester service on 31-Mar-2013 using A319 equipment - see Route Changes Table for more information. The service will be Virgin Atlantic's first domestic service and will also serve as a feeder into its international services from London Heathrow. The airline plans to apply for all of the remedy slots being awarded by the European Commission as part of the conditions for International Airlines Group (IAG) takeover of bmi. Virgin Atlantic believes competition on London Heathrow-Manchester route has been "neglected in the remedy process" and the service will offer an alternative to British Airways' existing service. Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway said, "Flying between Heathrow and Manchester is just the start for Virgin Atlantic’s new short haul operation.... Operating a London to Manchester route will provide an invaluable feed to our existing long haul network for both business and leisure passengers. It is the perfect introduction to short haul flights for Virgin Atlantic." [more - original PR]
Virgin Atlantic to launch first domestic service - London Heathrow-Manchester - in Mar-2013
You may also be interested in the following articles...
China-UK air service agreement permits growth as Chinese airlines constrained in most other markets
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.
IAG and Heathrow: airport decision welcome, but possible charges issues. Options at other IAG hubs
On 25-Oct-2016 the UK government announced its support for a new runway at London Heathrow Airport. There is still a lengthy set of processes to be observed before a new runway at Heathrow can finally be built. Moreover, opponents are likely to fight a fierce battle to try to prevent it. Even Heathrow Airport does not expect the runway to open before 2025. 2030 is more likely.
Airlines at Heathrow, led by British Airways and its parent IAG, have given a muted welcome to the UK government's decision. However, they are very clear that they do not wish to see airport charges increase as a result. IAG in particular has long been adamant that it will not pay for the expansion through tariff increases at Heathrow. The airport is among the most expensive in the world and its aeronautical yield rose 2.5 times from 2007 to 2014.
The UK government has set its aim on keeping landing charges close to current levels. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said that the expansion would provide an airport that is fair and affordable; but history suggests that the airport and its leading airline may define these terms differently. However, as this report demonstrates, IAG has other hubs and other airlines that give it alternative growth options.