Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 02/04/01
Author: Page Number: 21
Copyright: Other

Business travel

Virgin looks at plan for corporate jet service

Report by louise longman

VIRGIN Atlantic is considering launching a corporate jet airline for business passengers in a move that could rival British Airways’ Concorde services before they were suspended.

It is likely Virgin’s corporate jet, which is scheduled for launch next year, will offer passengers a service similar toVirgin’s Upper Class cabin which, with fares currently between £3,000-4,000, could seriously rival business-class fares from Virgin’s scheduled competitors.

Mid-week upper-class return fares between Heathrow and New York start at £3,870, and Heathrow to Hong Kong fares start at £4,213.

Exact route details are not yet confirmed but New York and Dubai are hot favourites.

Richard Branson was quoted as saying: “There are quite a lot of cities we don’t fly to under Virgin Atlantic that don’t merit a fully fledged service such as Seattle, Philadelphia and places in the Middle East.

“We have been developing the idea of a business jet service to fill these gaps.”

A Virgin spokesman said the airline would look at all routes that will benefit the business market and will not just offer services from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

Popular airports already offering corporate jet services include Luton and Biggin Hill in Kent.

The spokesman added: “The corporate jet market is a whole new area we are looking at, and it won’t just be launched as an alternative to Concorde.

“We’d like to think anything we would do is the preferred option for the business traveller,” he said.

Virgin is talking to lots of aircraft manufacturers but as yet does not have a shortlist.