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Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 1:12 pm

It has been a while since we heard Virgin Atlantic Airways expand. Does anybody know if the airline is planning new routes now that there new A340-600's are coming.

I have flown Virgin and I have to say if the airline had a better and bigger route network it's would be the best in the world. Do you think Singapore Airlines owning most of the airline is stopping any expansion plans? I think Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways are the best airline partners in the world.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 1:17 pm

The A346's are replacing some of the A343's on routes to Asia and possibly replacing one of the 744's to JFK. Virgin initially ordered them to replace the 742's.

As far as expansion is concerned, I can't see them expanding anywhere right now. Traffic across the Atlantic is still down. Virgin used to fly into YYZ and ORD, but cut those cities. I think it was done before 9/11, but I'm not too sure. If they do expand, I would see them re-entering those two markets, but nothing else unless things improve.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 2:01 pm

United777, am curious why you think SQ and VS are the best airline partners in the world? From my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the industry, the two don't seem to be the most amicable partners. Very limited code-sharing (only on LHR-SIN as far as I'm aware). And rumours abound that SQ is not too happy about the investment they made ... Compare this to say, NW and KLM which has to be the most integrated alliance out there. That's a true partnership. They have combined call centres, code-sharing on most (if not every one) of each other's flights. In terms of quality, I don't even think they're the best partners in the world. SQ - yes - high quality airline, but VS - not so sure from my experiences with them.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 2:05 pm

Rai, VA cut Toronto (YYZ) after 9/11, not before.
I like British Airways! I'm not sure why, but I do! ;-)
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 3:02 pm

I dont think it will be too long until we will see Virgin Atlantic flying to Dubai. Richard Branson (RB) has been out to Dubai a few times now and has been in talks with the 'big men' in the country on making Dubai the Virgin hub of the middle east. This of course isnt just the airline, but the megastores and music aswell. But as for the airline, I believe it wont be long until we see Virgin flying to Dubai, and onwards from there. According to the papers in Dubai (this was about a year ago) he was thinking of using Dubai as like a Bangkok or Singapore of the middle east, with flights flying to onward destinations in the far east and beyond. I know this was before Sept 11, but the Dubai-London-Dubai route is a very busy route. There are 8 flights a day most days between Dubai and LHR/LGW, not to mention EK once a day to both Birmaingham and Manchester. During the times RB has been in the country, he has seemed very interested in getting a piece of the route.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 5:29 pm


What you said is interesting. BA and EK have excellent loads on the DXB-LHR routes but many of the passengers are trasnfer and so VS has to offer excellent connections to make the route work. If VS do fly to Dubai I think it is best to formulate a codeshare agreement with EK for onward connections to Asia and the Gulf. If they manage to do this then they can probably fill daily B747-400 without any problems.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 5:55 pm

I see what you mean QA. Another thing, people would be very keen to use Virgin as their airline to travel to the US from Dubai. When all the Virgin hype started in Dubai, everyone I spoke to were very keen to try Virgin as they had heard many good things about them. Also remember, Singapore Airlines flies twice a day into Dubai and on top of that has numerous cargo flights per week. Another great connection for Virgin concidering they are strong partners.

By the way, how is Doha International comming along now? I went to see a friend in October last year so got to see what they had done to the airport. Arriving didnt seem like anything special after coming from Dubai of course. As bad as it had been when I went there in the mid 90s on visa runs. However, the new departures was very nice when I departed. Reminded me on an extremely tiny Dubai. I saw there was a lot going on so Im sure there is a lot more to the airport by now, and hopefully the arrivals are a lot better.
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 6:13 pm

This is an article from before Sept11

Branson expects Virgin Atlantic service to Dubai within year

British entrepreneur Richard Branson expects his airline, Virgin Atlantic, to start flying to Dubai within a year. Branson was ere to meet government officials as the first step towards establishing his Virgin group in the region.

Before leaving yesterday Branson said he had had discussions about setting up businesses here. "The principle one is Virgin Atlantic. As a result of the visit it is quite likely that we will start flying here within 12 months." He said General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Defence Minister, was "very encouraging". "He wants to see more competition and wants to see many more people from the UK and Europe coming here."

Branson said the first flights would be from London's Heathrow Airport. "We would look at one flight a day initially and try to build it from there. "I think there will be enough infrastructure to do one flight a day. But to go further there will need to be a lot more hotels built. But I hope we can fly two or three times a day within four or five years." In addition to scheduled flights, Branson is looking at Dubai as a holiday destination.

"There are some wonderful projects taking place in Dubai. I saw the Palm Island project today. It was very exciting to see the amount of hotels going to be created on the new reef."
The Palm Island project involves building an artificial island off the coast near the Dubai marina in Jebel Ali. The island, designed in the shape of a palm tree, will be the location for exclusive hotels and leisure facilities.

Branson expects Dubai to attract a lot more tourists because of its amenities, weather and the social scene. "My wife came and spent a week here, six weeks ago, and said what a wonderful place it was. It seems to have something for everybody."

Branson said he was impressed by the Dubai Internet City and that it would be a good place for the headquarters of Virgin Atlantic. "They were encouraging. It is certainly something which we'll explore. And it's very impressive how quickly they've managed to create something from nothing. We wouldn't have any difficulty in persuading people to work there.

"I think, in time, a number of our businesses would work here. Soft drinks would be one. The health and fitness clubs would be another. And possibly financial services, music and a megastore. There are a number of areas which we can look at. However, the first project will be the airline."

Branson described Dubai as the largest entrepreneurial company in the world. "The people I've met believe in what they're doing and they're completely committed. "There's a vision which has been set for them by those who are running the country. And they've all been working enormously hard to fulfil that vision."

This Article is post Sept 11

Virgin puts off plans to start Dubai flights
Dubai |By Anupa Prathap Mathew | 09-10-2001
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British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has postponed plans by over a year for his airline, Virgin Atlantic, to start flying to and from Dubai, as the terrorist attacks in the U.S. last month have badly hit the aviation industry.

Branson was in Dubai yesterday for the launch of the first Virgin Megastore at Deira City Centre, the first step towards establishing his Virgin Group in the region.

He said: "It is unlikely that we'll fly in the immediate future to and from Dubai, as the airline industry has been suffering the past few months.

"It will not happen in the present climate but, hopefully, things will be better again in nine months" time or so.

Branson had announced in March this year that daily Virgin Atlantic flights between Dubai and London will commence by March, 2002.

"The airline industry, especially those that fly across the Atlantic, are suffering. About 75 per cent of our business is trans-Atlantic. If we are lucky, we will still launch in Dubai by the end of next year but not before that."

He felt that for the airline industry to recover at the earliest possible from this slump, the current international political crisis has to resolve to some extent and people encouraged to take flights.

"We hope the world is a better world in six months' time," Branson noted.

"Lots of people are feeling uncomfortable about flying and, therefore, airlines are having to reduce capacity. The same happened when the Gulf War took place and, quite quickly after the war ended, everything came back to normal".

Despite the current slow-down in the tourism sector, Branson expects Dubai to attract a lot more tourists because of its amenities, weather and the nature of the emirate.

"I think that Americans (as tourists) are very fickle people and with a crisis at home, it is going to affect tourism. But if there is any country in the Middle East that they should feel safe about coming to, it is here (Dubai).
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RE: Virgin Atlantic Expansion?

Mon Jul 01, 2002 6:14 pm

I understand your point about North American traffic as North American traffic from Dubai isn't as small as some people think it is. Many of the passengers flying from DXB on LH, AF, KL and BA continue on to North America.

But if VS codeshares with EK then they will have access to the lucrative India market as well as good connections to the remainder of the Gulf and Asia.

And about DOH as you know the terminal was terrible in the 90's but the Departures area was renovated as you have noticed and the arrivals is now undergoing renovations which should be completed by October. Then it should look like the departures which I think is quite pleasant, like a mini-DXB.

There will be a new Terminal being constructed east of the runway as well as a second runway running parallel to the current one, a new cargo terminal and associated buildings (tower etc). The 'new' airport should be completed in just over 3 years and the current terminal will be handed over to the Air Force.

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