Virgin Atlantic has ruled out adding any more new destinations this year, fuelling speculation that expansion plans are on hold pending a possible sale or merger.
Speaking at the Business Travel & Meetings Show in London, sales and marketing director Paul Dickinson quashed speculation that the carrier was about to expand in Latin America with the launch of a much-rumoured services to Brazil.
Dickinson said there would be no new routes this year apart from Manchester-Las Vegas, which launches on April 2, with expansion concentrating instead on existing, mainly leisure routes.
“We won’t be flying to Latin America this year,” he said. “Part of that is our inability to secure slots at Heathrow.”
Virgin appointed Deutsche Bank earlier in the year to review its future in a consolidating market, which may include membership of an alliance.
Dickinson ruled out any immediate decision on alliance membership. “It’s consistently under review, but for the time being we are not close to joining an alliance, but it is something we are interested in.”
Dickinson said that when expansion resumed it would include places like Beijing and more routes in India and Africa, where Virgin last year began flying to Ghana.
“Africa is a very interesting continent, economic growth there is explosive and the amount of air services limited.” he said.
He said Virgin would unveil minor changes to its Upper Class cabin next year when it receives the first of its new three class Airbus A330 twin jets. The new aircraft will also have state of the art entertainment systems and new design economy seats.