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CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:28 am

Similar to what Delta did with Pan Am a long time ago? For example, Continental Airlines could use their own 777s on EWR to LHR, under a VS flight number (I think it's VS #1 to EWR, #2 back to LHR). CO could pay VS an undisclosed sum  Big grin for the slots, and use their flight numbers, as well as having VS code-share on the route. Would it be pointless, as it's almost the exact same thing as code-sharing (it probably would have been done before if it were profitable/ feasible)? Or would it be a way to get around the Bermuda II, and make a chunk-load of cash for CO?

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Tell me what you think: stupid idea, or a way to get around the B2?
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:48 am

So then how would the flight be identified at EWR and LHR?

Would it say CO 1 or VS 1 at the gate? If the latter is true, what's the point?
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Thu Jun 03, 2004 12:35 pm

It could be a great marketing tool for Continental, actually. Travelers would see Continental aircraft at both Heathrow and Gatwick, and theoretically, would be able to book "Continental" flights from both airports. Although the actual flight would be operated as VS, it would be a Continental product. Builds up good brand loyalty for CO, not so much for VS if they view CO has having an inferior product offering.

I think the only way it could be run in order to skirt B2 would be for VS to "charter" the CO aircraft (let's say for $1) under an ACMI agreement. This would make it a true blue VS flight, upon which Continental would still be able to throw their code-share on. Makes perfect sense.

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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Thu Jun 03, 2004 3:50 pm

I think to do this and remain w/in the BII agreement, the flight would have to be operated under the VS certificate, with VS crews. If I'm not mistaken that's how the DL/PA deal worked. DL crews flew the plane from ATL to IAD, and then PA crews picked up the plane in IAD. A CO crew could fly a CO 777 IAH to EWR, the a VS crew could take it into LHR. Continental could codeshare on the 'VS' flight, thus having their own metal and their own flight into LHR.


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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 1:57 am

They could possibly do it, but what would be in it for Virgin Atlantic?

Continental aircraft operating under Virgin flight numbers from Heathrow would dilute the Virgin brand. Continental cannot offer the new Upper Class suite which Virgin market on all their New York services now I believe, have no premium economy cabin and charge for drinks in economy.

Due to slot constraints Virgin would have to drop one of their own services, not neccesarily to the US, to open up runway slots for Continental to operate a service under VS flight numbers.

At the end of the day it would be a totally one-sided scenario, Continental would get all the benefits, Virgin would get no commercial advantage. If Virgin were to even consider such an agreement, Continental would have to pay Virgin well over the odds to make the agreement finacially attractive enough to VS in order to overcome the disadvantages. Having said that LON-NYC is a flagship route and since Virgin are longhaul-only, it is probably more strategically important to them than it is to Continental.

Just can't envisage why Virgin would do it.

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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 2:30 am

Erm....why? I can already travel as a CO passenger from LHR on Virgin to many destinations (not just in the States) - in fact I am doing so to SFO in three weeks time. What would be the point of swapping planes at EWR to send a CO777 to LHR and presumably a VS747/343 to Gatwick as a CO flight? More to the point crew won't be type rated on each other's equipment and establishing two bases in the London will be costly.
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 2:41 am

No need for extra crew bases.

Think about it. VS pilots don't need to be certified to fly the 777, CO pilots who are contracted by VS have to be, thus part of the VS crew. No extra needed crew base. There is nothing that says you can't work for 2 airlines, when technically you are in a multi-national trans-atlantic code share agreement as it is.

To make it easier, why not paint a VS with CO colors?
-- This would not be feasible, business sense-wise. WHY?

Why would Virgin cross-promote another airline, when itself is struggling and trying to get more flights out of LHR? This makes absolutely no sense. But I will be happy to debate the way around it, if VS ever wanted to do it.  Wink/being sarcastic
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:50 am

Searpqx correctly stated that the Pan Am/DL interchange flight, which was a 747 that operated ATL-IAD-LHR, was operated as a Pan Am flight between IAH and LHR with Pan Am crews and under a Pan Am call sign; under the interchange agreement, that flight just happened to on a DL 747 on certain (but not all) days of the week, Pan Am 747s were also seen on that route.

What would be the benefit to CO or Virgin of doing the proposed arrangement. VS, as far as I can see, gains nothing. CO would physically have an aircraft at LHR (if all of this were considered legal under Bermuda 2, but I dont even want to go there), but otherwise, what advantages would CO gain - the result may even be that CO would lose pax on its services to LGW because of the availiblity of this quasi-Continental flight into LHR. Codesharing covers this situation very well, I think, CO passengers who absolutely have to go to LHR can fly with Virgin, under a CO flight number, and earn OnePass miles, etc, etc. Am I missing something - I find the idea very interesting, but I cannot figure out why the airlines would do such a thing.

CO would love to get its own aircraft into LHR, but I think that they will just have to wait until Bermuda 2 is revised or becomes a part of aviation history.
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 3:59 am

Would onboard things say Continental like cups and magazines?
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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 4:03 am

VS and Air India did something similar as VS did not have route rights to operate into India, so they used Air India's frequencies, and Air India codeshared. But again, Virgin does not have any interest in not using its LHR slots. In fact Virgin is flying a whole aircraft to BOS/IAD just to keep the slots....

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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 4:53 am

It's not that they would lose or not use slots at LHR at all. They would still keep their own slots, but the slots would be filled by "leased" CO metal. In turn, VS could "lease" an A340 to CO for an IAH flight, which would basically give both carriers a presence at two airports which they have no presence. Sure, you can fly "Virgin" from IAH or fly "Continental" to LHR, but just having the aircraft there as the flying billboards which they are could be great for both carriers marketing wise.

Granted, VS does have a little bit to lose in terms of product offering, but if they were to swap the CO bird for an A340-300 without the Upper Class Suites, it really wouldn't make too large of a difference when compared to the seating aboard CO's 777.

Crew training would be absolutely nothing. Pilots would fly their respective aircraft. If VS or CO had a desire to staff each other's flights with flight attendants, each flight would operate with a bare-bones crew of FA actually qualified on the aircraft (safety wise, etc.), and the remainder of the crew would be crew from the other airline who would be seated in the crew rest seats for t/o and landing, and would only help during the service. Exactly what Hooters Air does. They have a bare bones FA crew, and then the hooters girls just to serve drinks.

Neilalp--catering would be done under the already established contracts. Therefore, EWR-LHR flights (CO plane, VS flight) would be catered to Virgin standards, and IAH-LGW flights (VS plane, CO flight) would be catered to Continental standards.

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RE: CO- Access To LHR With Their Metal & VS Flight #?

Fri Jun 04, 2004 8:09 am

A long time ago, in a galaxy far seriously...back in 1988 I traveled LHR-JFK on TWA but it was a GF L1011-500 aircraft. Was in "Ambassador Class" which at that time was a 2-3-2 layout as opposed to 2-2-2 on TWA's own aircraft.

So, I guess it's not impossible for CO/VS to do the same thing.

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