Passengers will soon be able to fly from London to Moscow with Virgin Atlantic if the airline manages to take over a number of take-off and landing slots being surrendered at the London hub by rival British Airways. BA’s takeover of Bmi earlier in the year meant that it acquired 56 slot pairs, 14 of which it has been told to surrender. Two of the pairs have already been given to Russian carrier Transaero, but Virgin is confident that it can win the remaining 12.
Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, Steve Ridgway said that although the airline’s core flying was still on transatlantic routes it was important to develop connections with the emerging economies. By adding Russia to its schedule the carrier will fly to three of the Bric nations. In October Virgin will re launch its London to Mumbai service which will connect Indian travellers to America via the UK.
Virgin also said that it remained committed to serving Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The airline will take over the routes no longer served by Bmi and Ridgway insisted that despite analysts doubts the services would turn a profit.
Separately, Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson has again attacked the government over Air Passenger Duty. He said that middle class families were being priced out of holidays because the tax adds as much as £325 to the cost of a trip to somewhere like Cancun in Mexico.
Branson told a press conference in Mexico that the airline would be increasing its pressure on the government to abandon APD by printing a message on its e-tickets informing customers that they have just paid the UK government the highest air tax on the planet.