Six-month-old Virgin scoops UK market

UK carrier Virgin Atlantic has acknowledged that the majority of passengers travelling on the Dubai-UK route start their journey in London.

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By  Joseph Mortimer Published  September 27, 2006

UK carrier Virgin Atlantic has acknowledged that the majority of passengers travelling on the Dubai-UK route start their journey in London. “Dubai doesn’t have a huge originating market [for us], so we’re undoubtedly taking a lot of traffic in [from the UK] and taking a lot of traffic back out. That is the bulk of total traffic,” said the airline’s CEO, Steve Ridgeway, in an exclusive interview with ATN. “Having said that, there is the big ex-pat here and we’re getting a good share of that.” Passengers travelling from Pakistan to the US were also connecting with Virgin flights to from Dubai to London, and then catching onward flights to key US cities, Ridgeway added. Virgin Atlantic launched the London to Dubai route on March 28, to soak up some of the demand for seats to Dubai from leisure and business travellers in the UK. The carrier has already achieved a market share of almost 10% for all air traffic flying direct between Dubai and the UK, and boasts average load factors in the high seventies. Ridgeway applauded the influence of Virgin’s GSA in Dubai, Sharaftravel, which began to build up awareness of the carrier and the new route, even before it was online. “In many ways we were already quite comfortable and familiar with the market [before we launched],” he said. “We’ve kept the two operations joined by the hip, and I think that has helped put us into the market and understand the market quicker than we thought.” Virgin Atlantic flies from Dubai to London Heathrow daily at 8.20am.

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