Virgin Atlantic could fly to Auckland as the airline today announced ambitious expansion plans. Britain’s second-largest long-haul airline hopes that it can expand from Heathrow after a third runway is built.
This morning we wrote about how Virgin Atlantic was eyeing launching a short-haul route network. However, the British airline also eyes significant long-haul expansion from London’s Heathrow airport. In fact, the airline would launch 35 new long-haul routes, providing it gains the required slots.
This would see the airline flying to the likes of Santiago, Sydney, and Auckland. The airline is using its new network plan to aid its call for reforms to slot allocation at Heathrow Airport ahead of a third runway opening.
2.5 times more long-haul
Virgin Atlantic currently operates to 18 global destinations from London Heathrow Airport. London Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, while also acting as one of the world’s busiest. The airline would add 35 international destinations making its total number 53. This works out as a roughly 2.5 times increase.
The airline highlights that its long-haul expansion would include the likes of Buenos Aires, Jakarta and Kunming. However, arguably a couple of the most interesting destinations announced by the carrier are Sydney and Auckland.
Virgin Atlantic has ambitions to launch flights to the opposite end of the world from London. In fact, earmarked in today’s announcement are both Sydney and Auckland. Launching flights from London to Sydney would see Virgin directly up against British Airways and Qantas, both members of the oneworld alliance. The route clearly has potential as Qantas is attempting to make it non-stop with Project Sunrise.
Launching flights to Auckland would see Virgin Atlantic competing against Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand currently operates the route via Los Angeles. This could also be an option for Virgin Atlantic who already announced intentions to fly the Airbus A350 to Los Angeles.
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Why is Virgin announcing new routes?
Virgin Atlantic is announcing new potential routes as it calls for the UK to reform the process of handing out new slots at Heathrow. With a third runway planned, many more slots will become available in the future. The owner of rival airline British Airways currently controls 55% of all of the slots at Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic eyes status as the United Kingdom’s second flag carrier with the airline saying,
“Virgin Atlantic warns that the new take-off and landing slots must be allocated in a way that enables the development of a second flag carrier with the necessary scale to compete effectively with IAG.”
Would you like to see Virgin Atlantic flights to the other side of the world? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!