Virgin Atlantic rules out continental Europe to US service until 2010

Virgin Atlantic has ruled out operating services from continental Europe to the US until 2010 or 2011, after previously suggesting it was keen to fly from a number of cities including Paris and Milan.

Group chairman Sir Richard Branson said: “We want to be careful not to start flying from Europe until a second-stage open-skies deal is ratified. We would like to see whether the second stage happens first.”

The next phase of open skies between Europe and the US is not expected until 2010 at the earliest and without progress on the second stage, governments could renege on the existing agreement.

Branson said he was unconcerned about being left behind by rivals. British Airways will begin services between the US and Paris or Brussels in June with a new subsidiary called OpenSkies.

But Branson admitted: “Ideally, we would like to operate from a number of European cities.”

He conceded Virgin has struggled to find the new aircraft it would require to operate continental services.
“At the moment we have a shortage of planes,” he said.

“Once the Boeing 787s [we have on order] come along in three years, it is possible we will operate services from continental Europe.”

Asia: Nurturing by nature

Nurturing by nature

Relaxing is easy when surrounded by the beauty of Malaysia
Read More »

Aviation: Class acts

Class acts

Premium cabins are undergoing a radical shift
Read More »

Asia: China in the sand

China in the sand

Joanna Booth explores Hainan, China’s tropical island
Read More »

Aviation: Route to success

Route to success

Airlines will be taking off to a host of new destinations
Read More »

Mauritius: Exclusively yours

Exclusively yours

Mauritius hosted agents on tour of its top-end hotels
Read More »