Virgin says it might return to Gatwick, especially for US…

virgin-says-it-might-return-to-gatwick,-especially-for-us…

Virgin says it might return to Gatwick, especially for US…

Virgin says it might return to Gatwick, especially for US routes
2021-11-16 12:28:00
When the Covid pandemic began to hit air travel, the slot rules – which require an airline to use 80% of its slots at an airport – were suspended. That suspension has continued ever since, to avoid planes flying empty, just to keep a (valuable) slot. Gatwick is keen to have the slot rules suspension ended, so it can bring in more flights by Wizz, instead of slots being blocked by British Airways and IAG.  Virgin decided to leave Gatwick in May 2020, as it could not make any money, but it kept its slots.  Norwegian is all but defunct as an international airline, but held 10% of Gatwick’s slots before Covid. Those have been sold or leased back to easyjet.  British Airways pre-pandemic was the second largest operator at Gatwick, with 17% of slots. It might, or might not, come back to Gatwick, after saying spring 2020 that it would leave.  IAG could sub-let slots to its low cost airline,  Vueling. Now Virgin is saying it might come back to Gatwick, as it is excited about the prospect of flights to the US returning, now Covid restrictions are eased. Things will change, if the slot waiver is ended, and both Virgin and British Airways would generally prefer to be at Heathrow, where they can make more money. .Tweet Virgin Atlantic ready to make U-turn and land again at Gatwick Last year Virgin quit Gatwick after 36 years of services and laid off or furloughed thousands of staff By Robert Lea, Industrial Editor (The Times)  Monday November 15 2021 Virgin Atlantic could make a dramatic return to Gatwick as early as next summer after its withdrawal from London’s second airport during the carrier’s near-death experience in the depths of the pandemic. Buoyed by the strength of the demand for transatlantic travel after the reopening of routes last week, Virgin has confirmed that the resumption of flights at Gatwick is a case of when and not if. Eighteen months ago, while on the brink of bankruptcy, it quit the airport after 36 years of services, shut down its operations and laid off or furloughed thousands of staff. Now, with ministers set to launch a review of their suspension of use-it-or-lose-it rules, which demand that airlines utilise at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots at airports if they are to retain flying rights, Virgin Atlantic could be forced into an early return to Gatwick if it wants a longer-term presence at the hub. In response to demands from Gatwick and from Wizz Air, the expansionist central European discount carrier, for an end to “slot-hoarding” at the airport that would prevent the launch of new competition, Virgin Atlantic said: “We maintain our ambition to rebuild our presence at Gatwick as demand returns, revisiting a long, close and successful relationship with the airport. “As travel restrictions are eased in further markets, we continue to see growing consumer confidence.” While Virgin considers its position, Wizz could be the biggest beneficiary if ministers tell slot-blocking airlines to pass on their flying rights. Norwegian, for instance, now all but defunct as an international airline, held 10% of Gatwick’s slots prior to the pandemic. The expansion plans of Wizz were further in evidence at the weekend with a firm order and options for 196 new Airbus jets worth a notional $25 billion. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is being urged to reinstate competition at Gatwick for next year’s aviation summer season, when airlines from March and April begin launching beefed-up flight schedules, especially to sunspots. The rules also could also an issue for British Airways, which has been loss-making at Gatwick for more than a decade. Pre-pandemic, it was the second largest operator at the hub with 17% of slots. BA has indicated that it plans to reopen a smaller operation at Gatwick, but has also insisted that it will not sell slots. That

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