Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to launch its first domestic route with the introduction of a new Manchester to London flight from the end of March 2013.
The new route will act as a regional feed to Virgin’s long-haul service while offering an additional choice of service to domestic travellers. The announcement comes less than a week after Virgin Trains lost out on the West Coast franchise that also services the city of Manchester.
Daily flights between Manchester and London
The move will see Richard Branson’s airline operate three daily flights from Manchester, signalling its ‘first foray’ into the domestic flying market and an open head-to-head battle for customers from what the airline claims to be an ‘overly-dominant’ British Airways.
Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive, Steve Ridgway said of the plans: ‘Flying between Heathrow and Manchester is just the start for Virgin Atlantic’s new short-haul operation. 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.’
Virgin will need to get price and service right
When Which? carried out their annual airline survey at the start of the year Virgin Atlantic received a customer score of 63% for its long-haul service – some way behind the 89% and 88% customer scores of Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand respectively.
Lorna Cowan, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Swiss airlines topped our short-haul survey this year with a customer score of 76%. Virgin will need to ensure the service they offer on-board their Airbus A319 aircraft represents value for money if they are to satisfy new customers.’