Virgin Atlantic is set to launch its first ever domestic flights in spring next year, after successfully bidding for routes between Heathrow and Scotland. (Featured image is by Virgin Atlantic)
The airline will operate two services from Heathrow to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, which are to be launched at the end of March 2013.
The short-haul flights will complement Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow to Manchester route, which it is also launching next year.
The new routes come after Virgin made a successful bid for Heathrow landing slots which were previously operated by BMI.
Following British Airways’ acquisition of BMI, the European Commission ruled that some of BMI’s slots should go to other airlines to avoid a BA monopoly on certain routes.
These included routes to Cairo and Moscow, as well as Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Virgin Atlantic’s successful bid for the Scotland links continues the airline’s ongoing rivalry with BA.
“We have fought hard for the right to fly short-haul and take a strong challenge to British Airways within these shores,” said Steve Ridgeway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic.
“This is the beginning of an exciting new era in Virgin Atlantic history and we now feel a responsibility to everyone that has supported us in this challenge.
“Passengers can look forward to a great short haul service with us but most importantly reap the benefits from the re-injection of vital competition we can provide on these routes.”
The decision by the European Commission has been welcomed by those in the tourist industry. Keith Brown, Scotland’s Transport Minister, said that it’s important for the two cities to have good transport links.
“The detail will be worked out over the next couple of weeks but we are pleased that the European Commission has taken note of the need for both Edinburgh and Aberdeen to be served and that Virgin Atlantic will now be able to operate from two of Scotland’s most important cities,” he said.