|Quoting Simairlinenet (Reply 6):|
The reasoning for Maastricht is explained in Simon Calder's "No Frills" book
Shortly after launching the Newark service in June 1984, Branson devised a route from Gatwick to the Dutch city of Maastricht. This was a classic 'no-frills' operation that predated FR
etc by a decade. The Maastricht connection was hatched to help fill Virgin's Gatwick-Newark service, particularly during the lean winter months when demand was at the lowest. During the winter there was over capacity on the market between the UK and the US and all airlines were chasing customers with rock bottom fares. Yet travellers in continental Europe had little access to cheap transatlantic flights, so Virgin Atlantic Flight 200 connected with the LGW
service, to feed the route with traffic to and from the continent. Maastricht was ideally located at the south-east corners of Holland, for travellers from Belgium and West Germany.
The idea was that on quiet days, the flight would be operated by the Vickers Viscount, which was owned by British Air Ferries (BAF
entered into a damp lease with BAF
– the pilots were from the latter and the cabin crew were from VS
Branson had grand ambitions for the Maastricht link. There was enough leeway built into the 747 schedule to allow, if demand was sufficient, for the Jumbo inbound from New York to continue on from Gatwick to Maastricht. It never did.
The Gatwick-Maastricht flight was not restricted to transatlantic passengers. For the first time, British travellers had a low-cost option to fly to the continent at a flat fare of £19 each way. It could have precipitated a low-cost revolution in the skies – yet after five years of under-marketing and underperformance, by which time VS
had changed from a back-packers' airline to the airline it is today, the Maastricht service was quietly dropped.
Interestingly, Branson makes no reference to this chapter in his autobiography or in Virgin's official history.
Virgin Atlantic never flew from to/from Dublin; this was Virgin Express – the Belgian airline – who failed to conquer Ryanair's hold over Dublin. The VS
Viscount was probably operating another charter for BAF
when it was seen at Dublin.
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."