Virgin Atlantic’s new short-haul airline Little Red will be able to compete with British Airways despite lower frequencies and the need to transfer between terminals at Heathrow, its new chief executive insists.
Speaking at the launch of Little Red services in Edinburgh, Craig Kreeger said he was confident available flight times “covered the day very well” and new transfers between terminals would ensure the change would not be off-putting for customers.
Little Red services currently fly in to Terminal One, while long-haul services depart from Terminal Three. If a proposed tie-up with Delta is approved as expected, that will mean more flights operating from different terminals, with Delta flying from Terminal Four.
While admitting that Virgin would be talking to Heathrow bosses about relocating Little Red services to Terminal Three to ease the process, Kreeger said he was confident the completely airside bus transfer would not be off-putting for customers.
“I have tried it myself and the whole process took under 20 minutes,” he said.
“I am confident (about competing with British Airways) and I am confident we will be chosen time and again by those that give us a try.”
Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson said that the airline had “had its hands tied for 30 years” by not having sufficient slots at Heathrow to offer its own connecting flights to regional airports.
But he said the launch of Little Red flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen would bring in new passengers and generate repeat business.
“Due to BMI’s demise a few crumbs came off the table, and we hope to put those crumbs to good use,” he said.
“It will offer some proper competition to BA on those routes and, more importantly, on all the routes which Virgin Atlantic flies.”