Virgin Atlantic’s domestic off-shoot, Little Red, has successfully launched its new services from Scotland, with the airline’s new chief executive hailing the development as offering “some proper competition to BA”.
Speaking at the inaugural flight celebrations in Edinburgh this week, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, Craig Kreeger, said he was confident that the new services covered the right times of day and would be seen as an alternative to British Airways, despite the lower frequencies of their flights and landing at a different terminal to Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul base.
As it currently stands, the new domestic services from Edinburgh, Manchester and Aberdeen will be flying in to Terminal 1 at Heathrow, whilst the long-haul services will continue to depart from their current base in Terminal 3. There will be further complications if, as expected, Virgin’s new partnership with Delta is approved by the Competition Commission, as they fly from Terminal 4.
Whilst Kreeger admitted that they would be talking to Heathrow management about moving Little Red to Terminal 3, he stressed that the airside bus – which will be transferring passengers between terminals 1 and 3 – would not be off-putting for passengers. “I have tried it myself and the whole process took under 20 minutes,” he said.
The out-spoken Virgin Group president, Richard Branson, was also at the launch, saying that the new services would bring new customers and repeat business. He also said that Virgin Atlantic had “had its hands tied for 30 years” at Heathrow by the lack of opportunity to start domestic flights which connected to its long-haul operations: “Due to BMI’s demise a few crumbs came off the table, and we hope to put those crumbs to good use,” he said.
Branson also took the opportunity to poke fun at British Airways by flashing a pair of underwear under his kilt emblazoned with the words ‘Stiff Competition’ at the assembled media.
When asked about the three new routes Branson added: “It will offer some proper competition to BA on those routes and, more importantly, on all the routes which Virgin Atlantic flies.”