Virgin Atlantic Airways today revealed plans to launch a short-haul route from London Heathrow to Manchester airport from March next year in the same week that it lost its rail franchise for the West Coast Main Line.
The firm said it aimed to provide competition to operator BA’s short haul service with the route, which is its first foray into domestic flying.
The airline plans to apply for all slots being awarded by the European Commission following the IAG takeover of bmi, but it will also use some of its existing slots to service the Manchester to London route. In a statement, it said competition on the London Heathrow to Manchester route had been “neglected in the remedy process”.
“Flying between Heathrow and Manchester is just the start for Virgin Atlantic’s new short haul operation,” said Virgin Atlantic 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.
“Our new service will provide strong competition to overly-dominant BA; keep fares low and give consumers a genuine choice of airline to fly to Heathrow and beyond.”