The airline plans to operate daily flights to the Russian capital using its brand new Airbus A330 aircraft offering the most cutting edge Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy cabins. Traffic between the two cities has trebled in the last ten years and demand on the route continues to grow.
Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive, Steve Ridgway said: “This route is now open for another UK airline following BA’s takeover of bmi and we are making preparations to take up these rights early next year. Linking these two cities will be an important part of our strategy to run short haul flights into Heathrow thus feeding our long haul network. It will also radically improve competition on the route giving business and leisure travellers much better choice.”
As well as securing designation from the UK government, the route launch will be predicated on winning the Heathrow slots that BA was forced to give up following its purchase of bmi earlier this year. Virgin Atlantic will be fighting to take up the 12 daily slot pairs so that it can provide renewed competition and feed its long haul network.
The move will increase much needed competition at London Heathrow, again offering consumers the choice that was taken away following BA’s acquisition. Flying to Russia reflects Virgin Atlantic’s strategy of mixing emerging economies with its more established destinations.
“Our core flying has always been across the Atlantic but we have been clear that we will also continue to grow our routes to emerging markets if given the slots at London Heathrow. Moscow would be our third BRIC country and we think it is imperative for British trade that we are operating in these economies,” said Ridgway.
Virgin Atlantic has been focusing on connecting its routes from the East and South to its transatlantic flights, doubling its own connecting traffic through Heathrow in the last two years alone. Its London Heathrow to Mumbai route launch in October of this year will also connect the Indian commercial centre with New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Washington via Heathrow.
Steve Ridgway said: “Given the increased consolidation in the market and challenging economic environment, we need to develop our network proposition and ability to sell more connecting journeys. Winning the bmi remedy slots will help us add connectivity to serve a huge number of travellers who have lost choice and the benefits of competition through the BA takeover.”