10 NOVEMBER 2014
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Virgin Atlantic will close its Little Red UK Heathrow domestic operation next year. Services from Aberdeen, three times daily and Edinburgh six times stop in September. The Manchester three return flights will finish at the end of March. All are flown by Aer Lingus into T2 under a wet lease contract.
With the cessation of the flights the Manchester slots will be retained by Virgin but no decision has been made as to whether these will be used to up the frequencies on certain routes, or go for new destinations such as Beijing and Sao Paulo. The other slots technically belong to British Airways but it is unlikely that the competition people will allow for BA to acquire a monopoly on these important routes.
Virgin says it would support any carrier taking over its domestic services. With other long haul carriers, both flying east and west, now operating out of both Edinburgh and Manchester, the London connection is not as important as it used to be. Virgin does point out that at Gatwick it picks up point to point traffic from European easyJet stations, passengers transferring to its leisure destinations.
Aer Lingus is considered a front runner for the routes, already well-established at T2 and the ‘de facto’ operator. What brand it might use is another question. www.virgin-atlantic.com/gb/en/the-virgin-experience/little-red.html
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