It seems that Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red unit – the domestic operation of Virgin Atlantic is to be axed from the 2015 timetable according to PR and TTG Digital.
Virgin Atlantic Little Red Airbus A320 – Image GhettoIFE.
Service wind down will be in stages, with services from London wound down:
- Manchester terminating March 2015
- Edinburgh terminating end of summer 2015
- Aberdeen terminating end of Summer 2015
Well, in the loosest possible terms, my first thought is “That wasn’t unexpected”.
Virgin Atlantic is blaming a lack of slots to make Little Red work, as well as British Airways dominating the domestic routes, with that “reenforced” with the takeover of British Midland International
Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red traffic has been dismal, with 37.6% loads in the last CAA stats up t 2013. That traffic has mainly been point to point traffic as opposed to connecting traffic.
And that doesn’t add up to revenue to keep Little Red alive.
Looking at the PR provided, there is the usual amount of BA bashing, with the PR stating
“It was always a huge challenge on behalf of the consumer, as the totally inadequate number of slots made available by the European Commission did not deliver close to BA’s network position, even when supplemented by our own slots to fly between Heathrow and Manchester. The time lag between the takeover of bmi and our entering the market also meant Little Red initially faced an uphill battle to win recognition and convert customers to its services.
“While this challenged environment meant Little Red ultimately did not deliver the results we had hoped, this certainly will not dampen our enthusiasm to try new things in the future. We have always fought for what we believe is best for our customers and we will continue to do so.
So, who wins? Well, it’s not the consumer who have restricted domestic choice into London Heathrow… but is there THAT much domestic traffic required to flow in that direction to justify a second carrier? BMI couldn’t make it work in the end, and now Virgin Atlantic Little Red can’t (and considering Little Red as going toe-to-toe with Virgin Rail on some routes, that could be considered a little dumb).
It’s not BA, who will have domestic traffic sewn up at Heathrow. There’s very little domestic competition left into Heathrow (and Irish competition into Heathrow is restricted by Aer Lingus – who still codeshare with)
The real winner will be Virgin Atlantic, who are using the slots right up to the point where the remedy measures of the BMI takeover run out – allowing Virgin Atlantic to apply for new routes (as the slots have one IATA season left to run before they can be re-purposed).
Meanwhile, in terms of domestic traffic, EasyJet and Ryanair will continue to eat from the bottom as Ryanair starts UK Domestic servives, whilst British Airways eats at the top proving feed to its international network.
Virgin Atlantic Little Red operated a fleet of four Airbus A320s, wet leased from Aer Lignus