VIRGIN
Atlantic plans to steal £100 million worth of British Airways’ premium business
with the launch of its Upper Class product. 

The
carrier has spent three years and £50 million developing the cabin, which includes
what it says is the world’s largest flatbed.

It
will roll out the 202cm-long bed on its flagship Heathrow to New York route to
coincide with BA’s retirement of Concorde in October.

Sir
Richard Branson said: “We have spent £50 million on this product, but we think
we can take £100 million off BA in the first 12 months. We are estimating 10%
of its business-class passengers will switch and between 4% and 5% of
first-class passengers.”

He
added the airline has already started targeting corporate travel managers to
switch policies to Virgin and is gearing up for a multi-million pound TV
advertising campaign.

The launch of the seat, which flips over to form the
bed, comes just three years after the last relaunch of the Upper Class product
which came in for criticism because the seat was so close to the cabin floor.
Virgin claims the bed is one foot wider than both BA’s first class and
business-class beds.

Sir Richard said: “We were so secretive about this
launch because we wanted to see BA continue to waste millions promoting and
installing its Club World bed.”