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VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:27 pm

Virgin Atlantic is has plans to increase its presence in the Caribbean as told in this www.carbbeanaviation article>
22AUG02 Virgin Atlantic plans to operate 14 weekly flights to the Caribbean and provide nearly 6,500 seats per week by winter 2003/4, a capacity increase of more than 110 percent. Currently, there is from Gatwick a year-round daily service and an additional weekly Barbados flight planned from 04DEC02. There will be a new weekly service from Gatwick to Tobago and Grenada in May 2003, a new weekly service from Manchester to Barbados in winter 2003/4 and an additional four weekly flights from Gatwick to Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua compared with winter 2002/3.

The flights to Tobago and then onto Grenada will depart on Monday mornings and will be operated by a Boeing 747. The airline said the new service meant a projected annual economic benefit to Tobago and Grenada of more than US$5 million in increased jobs, trade and tourism. It is currently awkward for Virgin Atlantic passengers to get to these islands as the airline will first fly them to Barbados for connecting flights on Caribbean Star and LIAT respectively. The current operators to these islands are British Airways and Monarch Airlines, also from Gatwick.

The Manchester flights, probably departing on Sundays, will compete with those of BWIA which recently launched a twice-weekly Manchester-Barbados-Port of Spain service.

St Lucia will get an extra Friday flight from 02MAY03, making it two non-stops and a one-stop (via Barbados) per week. Antigua will get an extra Saturday flight from 03MAY03 using the Boeing 747-400, making it two non-stops and a one-stop (via Barbados) per week. Barbados will retain its Wednesday flight, originally planned to by a wnter service terminating on 26MAR03. This means that the aurline will be flying to Barbados every day except Sundays from 04DEC02
Eagles Soar!
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:42 pm

I find this ironic as in my stay in Trinidad i was able to see a 15 min video by BWIA the transformation from 1998-2002 ( the delivery of the first Airbus 340)

In this video BWIA spoke about how the airline was able to with stand competition from Virgin which launched additional service concurrent to that of BWIA using bigger equipment 747s v L1011s.

I guess that Virgin plans to make the airline pay for not taking up the offer by Virgin to acquire a 10% stake in the airline in the late 90s. As the Manchester service seems a little way off BWIA should be able to boost its UK route service reputation whihc has been damaged by the state of the Tristars. The airline seems to be on the right path as a people have said that the service on the 340 is superior to what was offered before.

But BWIA must not sit and wait for Virgin to come and operate it UK service to Tobago and Grenada as the delivery of the second 340 should allow the airline to operate a weekly service to these destinations from Manchester.

I found that BWIA has also put alot of fan fare into the 340 more so than the 737s. They were full page ads in Barbados, staff at Piarco have shirts well the people who handle the luggae at the check in counter (not the people who check you in ) have polo shirts with a pic of the 340 and the airline latest add has a clip of the 340 taking off. However I think the reason behind all of this is to boost the staff morale.
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Tue Sep 03, 2002 11:01 pm

BWIA is all f'd up.
No way can they withstand any competition at Manchester.

Went to see what fares a travel agent would give for LHR-POS and, on their system, all the cheapest fares made you get off the 340/L1011 in ANU or BGI and hang around for 4+ hours until the next Dash 8 or 737 comes by and then you take up a seat which probably has a higher seat-mile cost than the one, now probably empty, on the 340 going on to POS.
What this bug in the system means, intentionally or not, is that even the VFR Trinidadians looking for a cheap fare, will find no advantage over Virgin flights where they have to transfer in BGI or TAB.
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Tue Sep 03, 2002 11:49 pm


Brilliant to see VS opening up new routes (unless you're BWIA of course!)

As they do with the majority of flights, Virgin Atlantic's sister company, Virgin Holidays will be selling alot of seats on the VS services as part of a package so that's another problem for Bwee.
Also because VS is more financially stable and has more cash to play with I assume they'll be able to offer more incentives to get pax onto their flights.

The VFR market may stay faithful to Bwee, but I rekon most British holiday makers would rather fly with VS because of their excellent reputation here in the UK.

Considering VS wasn't expected to open new routes for a while, I wonder if they are now putting more focus on VFR and leisure routes like these.
Also, does anyone know if VS are actually planning to start flights to Abuja, Nigeria which have been rumoured for a while?

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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 12:47 am

Which 747s are VS going to use on these new routes? Do the 5 at LGW have enough availablility to work them or are there more 742s from Air Atlanta on the way?

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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:07 am

They'll be using Air Atlanta on the MAN run as they're also introducing a 5 weekly MCO service for the winter at the same time i.e. MCO will now be year-round from MAN.

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RE: VS To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:31 am


This is interesting, im sure the 5 744s based at LGW probably wont be able to handle it, say if theres maybe two flights a day going to the Caribbean, they'll both be back the next morning, im not entirely sure if it'll be two or more, but Caribbean competition is hotting up now!

VS have G-VROM, G-VROS, G-VLIP, G-VROY and G-VGAL based at gatwick, and current services out of LGW are:

Miami, Orlando (2 x daily??), Barbados, St, Lucia, Antigua and Las Vegas, if i've missed any correct me.

And with the new 346s coming, it might be interesting to see if Virgin puts the 744s on the Caribbean routes, and theres gonna be the MAN routes to sort out.

I really dont know what'll happen, just hope the fares go down, and/or they start TNCM services!!

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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 6:59 am

No there isn't enough spare capacity with the LGW 744 fleet to operate 2x daily Caribbean flts. I haven't seen anything in writing yet but my guess is either a 744 moving base from LHR or an Air Atlanta Classic operation as for MAN-MCO/BGI. The LHR 744's are all in a different config to the LGW based a/c (bigger C class) so it would probably need one a/c to be re-configured rather than 744's positioning between LGW/LHR as necessary.

No current plans to start Abuja, although things tend to happen here at very short notice! Basically there is no spare capacity in the fleet at the moment until the 346's start replacing the 343's.
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 7:53 am

VA = Veterinary Association
VS = Virgin Atlantic
18 year vet! 2000-2017
BWIA 772
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 7:54 am

The tourist industry in Barbados will receive get another boost. The island has received increased airlift from both the US and UK in a post 9- 11 aviation industry.

BWIA can offer competition if it plays it cards right and schedule it flights in a sensible fashion which will be aided with the fleet rationalisation and the BWIA LIAT alliance.

I wonder if VA will eventually expand into the direct flights from continetal Europe.
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 9:38 am

It will take more than an A340 to turn BeeWee around. Trust me, in the 1980's when the Tri Stars came on stream, it was the same ideology. Now, 20 odd years down the road, where are we? BeeWee could have had a good thing. In those days, the Eastern Caribbean from Guyana to Antigua was their territory, and now, with the exception of its mini fortress at Piarco, BeeWee has nothing to show for its 60 years of operations.
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RE: VA To Launch Manchester Barbados Route

Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:16 am

Well, this was certainly expected. The Caribbean has heated up as a "safe" tourist destination in the last year and as such the demand for flights has grown. VS has thus sought to take advantage of this situation as well as the poor states of BA and BW presently by expanding its services. In so doing BA could get a serious run for its money in the region - only its Concorde ops to BGI are truly immune to the VS onslaught.

AS for BW, the VFR market may not necessarily stay loyal to it if it keeps charging those inflated airfares - indeed quite a few Trinis in the UK fly home with AA (ie LHR-MIA-POS) or even use AA to JFK and then take NA to POS! BW has a lot to do to revamp its image and so, despite its many problems now, it must part with the TriStars. As I have said before, the image of flying old planes is not one that will appeal to the UK/European public (even if we plane enthusiasts like it!).

All in all, a seriously lost opportunity for BW which spent too long trying to defend its POS fortress to seek out lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

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