Virgin Express Forced to Pull Back from Heathrow

Article excerpt

VIRGIN Express, Sir Richard Bransons budget airline, is to withdraw from Heathrow at the end of October, terminating the Brussels-based carriers troubled tenure in Britain and putting an end to no-frills flying at the UKs busiest airport.

Its departure, which leaves it without any flights to the UK, comes after code share partner SN Brussels decided to sign a commercial agreement with British Airways instead earlier this month.

The new relationship between the UKs flag-carrier and the successor to Sabena leaves Virgin Express without any take-off and landing slots at Londons main hub. It has been forced to redeploy its planes elsewhere.

Virgin Express commercial director Paul Sies said: We have tried to get slots in our own right at Heathrow for the past five years but it is completely congested. We will try and come back to the UK in future, ideally at Heathrow or Gatwick but possibly at Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Last year the Virgin Groups low-cost airline came back into profit for the first time in four years after a major programme of reorganisation. It is also launching in Germany with flights from Cologne-Bonn airport to a number of European destinations from November. The routes are set to be revealed this week.

Meanwhile, the US Delta Air Lines is to develop a new low cost product in a bid to beat budget carriers at their own game in Florida and the east coast. …