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Virgin Atlantic Challenges IAG With Plans for 84 New Routes

Virgin Atlantic Challenges IAG With Plans for 84 New Routes
Jackie Reddy

It’s not yet been built, but Virgin Atlantic has already said that it wants to use the third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) as a platform to challenge the dominance of the International Airlines Group (IAG) at the facility. The airline is seeking to quadruple its services upon expansion.

The third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) has not yet been built, but Virgin Atlantic has already announced that it is planning to use the expansion as a platform to challenge the dominance of the International Airlines Group (IAG) and its members.

In a statement, Virgin said that the construction of the third runway at Heathrow Airport will enable it to “significantly increase” its long-haul, domestic and European route network. However, the airline added that its own expansion at the airport is dependent on how the British government decides to reform the process of slot allocation at the facility.

“The rules governing the allocation of new slots are currently being reviewed by the government. Virgin Atlantic warns that the new take-off and landing slots must be allocated in a way that enables the development of a second flag carrier with the necessary scale to compete effectively with IAG,” Virgin stated, adding, “As things currently stand, IAG holds more than 55% of all the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, with no other airline holding more than 5% of the remaining slots.”

Virgin has said that this potential increase in slots would enable it to serve 84 new destinations around the world, up from an increase of just 19 long-haul routes in 2020.

Commenting on Virgin Atlantic’s plans, CEO Shai Weiss said, “Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens thousands of travelers. Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.”

“Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier. This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world. Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive,” Weiss added.

More details on Virgin Atlantic’s proposed expansion at Heathrow Airport can be found here.

[Featured Image: Flickr/Mike McBey]

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