12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Virgin’s domestic UK airline service, Little Red, is operating on average more than 60 per cent empty flights, according to figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Domestic service Little Red was launched in March last year with flights operating to the north of England and Scotland from its hub at Heathrow airport.
Flights are operated under contract by Aer Lingus using a single-class A320.
The CAA’s figures show the airline’s load factor – how many seats flown were actually occupied – was 37.6 per cent in 2013. This puts it behind British Airways and Easyjet, which boasted load factors of 72.4 per cent and 77.8 per cent respectively, The Daily Telegraphreported.
Virgin Atlantic has defended the figures stating it was “pleased” with the progress of Little Red.
“Since the start of 2014, [Little Red] has been gaining market share, beating its revenue and load factor budgets and generating great customer feedback,” a spokesman said.
“Our load factor so far in 2014 is already considerably higher than the 2013 average. We expect this momentum to continue as we move into the summer travel season with healthy forward bookings.”
In November last year Little Red axed one of its four daily flights between Heathrow and Manchester from its 2014 schedule.
In a recent interview with BBT,Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Craig Kreeger refused to discuss Little Red load factors, but said the airline was “on plan – it does need to grow, but we expect it to”.
He emphasised its key role in feeding the long-haul network – he said 27 per cent of passengers are “connecting traffic” and he expects this percentage to increase.
“One of the reasons why we remain confident we can make this work – when it wasn’t so easy for Bmi – is because we will measure success or failure by the combined incremental revenue on our network,” he said.Virgin.com