Virgin Atlantic is eyeing major growth at Heathrow, increasing its route network from 19 to 103 destinations.

The plans would see it relaunch domestic routes and begin flying to some European destinations. It would also increase its global flight network.

The plans would represent a fourfold increase on Virgin’s current network if approved.

Virgin used to fly some UK routes under its domestic arm, Virgin Little Red, until it ceased operations in 2015.

Of the 84 new destinations proposed, 12 are domestic, including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, 37 are European, including Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid, and 35 are global, including  Buenos Aires, Jakarta and Kunming.

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As part of the Aviation Strategy Green Paper, the government is reviewing the system for slot allocation at airports and domestic connectivity.

Virgin is calling for take-off and landing slots to be allocated in a way that enables a second carrier to compete with BA parent, IAG.

IAG currently controls the greatest number of slots at Heathrow.

Chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, said: “Virgin Atlantic’s plans address the urgent need for strong, effective competition at the UK’s only hub airport and will reduce the cost of flying for millions of British business and leisure passengers for whom Heathrow is the gateway to the world.

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“Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens thousands of travellers. Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.”

IAG said it welcomed competition but added: “Virgin Atlantic’s lack of Heathrow routes is down to its corporate strategy.

“Virgin had the opportunity to increase its slot share at Heathrow to 19.7% by buying slots but it chose not to do so. The airline has failed to create more competition at the airport. It closed Little Red on domestic routes, pulled off long-haul routes and rents out the slots it owns to other airlines to fly.”

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