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Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson's long-haul British airline, will launch a domestic flying program within the United Kingdom in spring 2013, it announced last week.
Founded in 1984, Virgin Atlantic specializes in long-haul service between destinations as far apart as Las Vegas
. Its new short-haul service — focusing on flights to and from Scotland and Manchester
— will give international travelers more options for connecting flights in London
through direct competition with British Airways, which recently was forced to give up 12 daily "slot pairs" at London's Heathrow Airport
over concerns about monopoly. Virgin Atlantic will take over nine of those 12 pairs.
"Throughout our history, Virgin Atlantic has successfully fought British Airways all over the world
and has offered passengers a compelling alternative through our renowned product and service," said Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway. "We will look to replicate that in our short-haul program and challenge the current BA monopoly on these routes, which is causing serious consumer harm. Virgin Atlantic will offer millions of passengers in Scotland and Manchester connections around the world through our and our partners' long-haul network, with the additional benefit of providing direct services to and from London Heathrow. This is a robust business model that will protect competition to and from Heathrow for the long term."
Virgin Atlantic's new service will include six daily round-trip flights between Heathrow and Edinburgh, and three daily round-trip flights between Heathrow and Aberdeen. Additionally, the airline will use three of its existing Heathrow slots to operate three daily round-trip flights between Heathrow and Manchester.
Service to Manchester will commence on March 31; service to Scotland will follow in April.