Virgin eyes BMI slots for launch of UK flights

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Airlines, Heathrow
Tags: , , , , , ,

Virgin Atlantic is preparing to bid for the 12 pairs of Heathrow slots that will be freed up following British Airways’ takeover of bmi as Sir Richard Branson sets his sights on launching his first UK domestic flights.

Virgin, which currently holds 3pc of Heathrow slots, has long hankered after a foothold in the UK domestic market. Photo: Alamy

Virgin, which currently holds 3pc of Heathrow slots, has long hankered after a foothold in the UK domestic market. Photo: Alamy

The airline is calling on the European Commission to ensure the 12 slots are auctioned as one complete package to provide the “most effective” competition to BA-owner International Airlines Group (IAG).

IAG will dominate 51pc of Heathrow slots after the bmi deal completes on April 20, even though it agreed to relinquish 14 pairs of take-off and landing slots to satisfy European competition authorities. Of the 14 pairs, two are already leased to Russian airline Transaero, meaning only 12 would be available for use by a new entrant.

Virgin, which currently holds 3pc of Heathrow slots, has long hankered after a foothold in the UK domestic market. It failed on several occasions to buy bmi.

Julie Southern, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, said the 12 slots relinquished by IAG were a “wholly inadequate” remedy to increasing competition on certain UK and European routes but the airline would nevertheless be among the bidders. The auction process is expected to commence in several weeks’ time.

Ms Southern told The Daily Telegraph: “We will apply to take up all of the remedy. We think it is important that the 12 pairs of slots stay together. It’s only by flying those all together that you get effective competition.”

Read the whole story at The Telegraph here….


By Nathalie Thomas
08/04/2012


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