Virgin Atlantic to fly between Heathrow and Manchester
Published: 21st Aug 2012 00:01:20
Virgin Atlantic is to begin a short-haul service between London Heathrow and Manchester from next March.
The airline says its first foray into the UK domestic market will provide competition for British Airways.
It will also provide a regional link for passengers using its long-haul services from Heathrow, it says.
Virgin denied the move was a response to Virgin Rail being told it was losing the West Coast Mainline franchise that covers London to Manchester.
The franchise, held by Virgin since 1997, will be taken on by FirstGroup later this year, the government announced last week.
"Flying between Heathrow and Manchester is just the start for Virgin Atlantic's new short-haul operation," said airline chief executive Steve Ridgway.
"We have the means to connect thousands of passengers to our long-haul network as well as to destinations served by other carriers."
The airline says it will operate three daily flights to Manchester using Airbus A319 aircraft from 31 March 2013.
Virgin says that 65% of people who fly from Manchester to London then connect on to another long-haul flight, and they want a share of that market.
Manchester Airports Group said Virgin was already a strong carrier at the airport with long-haul routes to Barbados, Orlando and Las Vegas.
"We aim to support our airlines as they look to grow and we hope the success of Virgin's domestic services will lead to further expansion at Manchester," said Ken O'Toole, chief commercial officer at Manchester Airports Group (MAG).
Virgin Atlantic was founded by Sir Richard Branson, and is 49% owned by Singapore Airlines.
Earlier this month it reported an annual loss because of higher fuel prices.
The carrier made a loss of £80m in the 12 months to the end of February, compared with a profit of £18.5m a year earlier.
BA said in a statement that it was "confident that our excellent customer service and great value fares will continue to set the standard in UK short-haul aviation".
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Virgin Atlantic to fly between Heathrow and Manchester. [Online] (Updated 21 Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1447258-Virgin-Atlantic-to-fly-between-Heathrow-and-Manchester [Accessed 13th May 2013]
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