Whichever way you want to look at it his stated intent is to grow at LHR.
That much is true but its not all he said about growth opportunities in the video.
The interviewer asked whether yesterday’s order (14 firm + 6 options) for A339s was about replacing the A332 and A333 fleets 1:1 or of it was more than that. The response was that it was about more than a 1:1 replacement, it was about creating the platform for VS’s return to growth.
The interview revealed that the third runway is one of a number of spaces in which VS are positioning themselves to grow, and Mr Weiss stated that VS have the ambition to double in size at LHR (the metric was not stated so it is unclear whether that’s by reference to number of routes, seat capacity etc.) in order to become the UK’s second flag carrier.
The interview also revealed other spaces in which VS are positioning themselves for growth:
1. FlyBe - it was stated that this demonstrated their ambition to expand their footprint in the UK and beyond, under the brand Virgin “Something”. This is via a “two pronged” approach. The first prong was to feed long haul flights at MAN and LHR. The second prong was the opportunity to provide further services in the rest of the UK (no specifics were discussed).
2. Thomas Cook - this was dealt with in a hypothetical basis as VS have made no public comment. It was confirmed that they are observers but if opportunities to provide further services “at Manchester or elsewhere” they would take a look. The interviewer enquired about the short / long haul split (i.e. why would you be interested in old A332s and / or A321s but that question was sidestepped).
3. Delta and JV partners - the positive relationship with Delta was relayed, and the potential for opportunities arising from that and also the JV with Air France and KLM were highlighted.
4. Skyteam - VS’s traditional reticence about joining an alliance has softened. It is possible that they could join Skyteam in future (Weiss describes VS as being de facto members already).
5. Further consolidation - it is felt that further consolidation is coming, that VS are well placed to whether the changes, and would look for further opportunities within the UK (the inference I took from this was the likes of e.g. Loganair operation rather than e.g. Thomas Cook).
Overall, its a bullish message from VS, and we await to see how that strategy might be implemented.