Virgin Atlantic’s UK domestic operation, Little Red, has begun services between London Heathrow and Edinburgh.
The service, which will be followed by sectors from Heathrow to Manchester and Aberdeen, was won by Virgin after the acquisition of British Midland International by International Airlines Group member British Airways.
As part of the deal allowing British Airways to absorb its biggest domestic rival, the national flag-carrier was obliged to divest several pairs of slots at Heathrow to allow a new contender on the domestic sectors.
Virgin Atlantic said its new domestic operation, which uses Airbus A320s leased from Aer Lingus but in Virgin colors, will carry up to one million passengers a year, flying 26 flights a day.
New CEO Craig Kreeger said the Heathrow-Edinburgh route is “key to Little Red’s strategy to provide strong and effective competition—it is the busiest UK air route, with Edinburgh being a thriving financial center and the seat of the Scottish government.
“Alongside bringing revenue into Scotland, our Little Red service is all about connectivity to the rest of the world. We have seen impressive numbers of connecting journeys being booked through to places such as Tokyo and New York,” he said, adding the new service has received wide support from other airlines keen to connect passengers between their Heathrow flights and the rest of the UK.
“Thirty-one other airlines already offer their flights with Little Red connections. Many of these airlines used to partner with bmi and want to offer their passengers a competitive alternative to British Airways.” Four airlines—Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, South African Airways and Cyprus Airways—were already codesharing with the new domestic services and Kreeger expects to add to this number in the near future.