Nearly 30 years after launching Virgin Atlantic to bring a new challenger to long-haul flying from the UK, Sir Richard Branson is now bringing the fight to home turf – with the launch of the brand new ‘Little Red’ domestic service.
Bringing a splash of red to the sky, Branson’s Little Red service will offer the Ghanaian market over 13 onward connections from London Heathrow. The total network consists of four daily round-trips between London Heathrow and Manchester, six daily round-trips to Edinburgh and a further three daily round-trips to Aberdeen. An extra service was added to Manchester last week, offering four flights a day instead of the three originally planned, to give passengers even more flexibility and offer even better connections to Virgin’s worldwide network.
Virgin Atlantic Little Red will be offering a taste of the customer service Virgin Atlantic is world-renowned for with free 23kg luggage check-ins, pre-assigned seats, complimentary snacks and drinks and even hot breakfasts on early morning flights. A series of exclusive brand partnerships have been lined up for passengers including specially created Tyrrells crisps – ‘Plane crisps’ made from miniature potatoes, a variety of exclusive miniature spirits from Bacardi Martini and Scotland’s favourite drink, Irn Bru on the Scottish services. Virgin Atlantic is also exploring further exciting on-board product offerings, from Krispy Kreme doughnuts to The Collective Dairy yoghurts topped with Rude Health granola.
After successfully bidding to the European Commission for the Heathrow slots made available after British Airway’s parent company IAG took over bmi, the airline that flies in the face of ordinary is restoring competition on these three routes which have faced a monopoly since that takeover. Slots made available by IAG will be used to fly to Scotland from 5th April and Virgin Atlantic has utilised its own slots to add the Manchester service from 31st March.
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic founder and president, said: “Virgin Atlantic has been on an incredible journey since we started with a single plane 29 years ago. Little Red represents the next step on that journey as we go head to head with British Airways to provide domestic flights that deliver Virgin Atlantic’s rock and roll spirit as well as real value for money.
“The European Commission recognised that a British Airways monopoly would be undeniably bad for consumers and Little Red will stop British Airways dominating routes and driving higher prices.”
Virgin Atlantic’s submission to the Commission showed the IAG takeover would leave at least 1.8million Scottish passengers facing price increases and fewer flights, as well as the 300,000 small businesses served by the bmi network in Scotland, many of whom are reliant on affordable and accessible connections to London Heathrow.
The schedule of the new flights is timed to maximise connections for passengers travelling onwards from London across Virgin Atlantic’s global network. Little Red flights will operate to and from Heathrow Terminal 1 but will have excellent connections with Virgin Atlantic’s international flights from Terminal 3. There will also be early flights to serve business fliers reaching morning meetings in each city.
Rachel Coffey, Country West Africa said: “We recognise that the Ghanaian people have strong ties with the city of Manchester and in an effort to demonstrate our commitment to the route we’re thrilled to offer over ten daily connections from London Heathrow in addition to services in Aberdeen and Edinburgh”
The new chapter in Virgin Atlantic’s history will see an increased capacity on the routes previously operated by bmi, flying almost one million passengers domestically on four Airbus 320 aircraft in the distinct Virgin colours with region-specific names chosen by lucky local competition winners, to be announced shortly.