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Virgin Atlantic will stop running Little Red in 2015 after just 18 months in operation.
Virgin Atlantic launched its UK domestic flight network in March 2013.
The flights between London Heathrow and Manchester will stop in March 2015, while those between Heathrow and Edinburgh and Aberdeen will end in September.
Little Red was intended to act as a feeder airline for trans-Atlantic routes. The service was designed to challenge British Airways.
The aim was to help long-haul Virgin customers connect with other parts of the UK, but Virgin said most passengers were using it as a standalone service.
Virgin Atlantic will stop running Little Red in 2015 after just 18 months in operation
At its launch, the company pledged the airline would deliver “Virgin Atlantic’s rock-and-roll spirit as well as real value for money”.
Virgin said that bookings “grew steadily” in the early part of this year, but few of these were passengers connecting with long-haul Virgin flights.
“Little Red has unfortunately not been able to make a positive contribution to Virgin Atlantic’s network,” the company said.
Virgin Atlantic added that a scarcity of available slots and the speed with which the new service was launched had hampered its success.
Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic’s president, said: “When the competition authorities allowed British Airways to take over British Midland and all of its slots, we feared there was little we could do to challenge BA’s huge domestic and European network built through decades of dominance.
“To remedy this, we were offered a meagre package of slots with a number of constraints on how to use them and we decided to lease a few planes on a short-term basis to give it our best shot.
“The odds were stacked against us and sadly we just couldn’t attract enough corporate business on these routes.”
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Richard Branson lifted up his kilt to the watching crowd to reveal pants bearing the slogan “stiff competition” as he stepped off the first Virgin plane at Edinburgh airport from Heathrow.
The Virgin Atlantic president performed his latest publicity stunt as he promoted his company’s expansion into Scotland.
“Stiff competition” alluded to Richard Branson’s newly launched domestic service, Little Red, which will now offer Virgin flights between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and London, in direct competition with British Airways.
Richard Branson lifted up his kilt to the watching crowd to reveal pants bearing the slogan “stiff competition” as he stepped off the first Virgin plane at Edinburgh airport from Heathrow
Richard Branson – who had a Scottish grandmother and is married to a Glaswegian – stood on an elevated platform on the windy runway and said it was “great to be in Edinburgh” before he exposed his underwear to a crowd which included Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Speaking after the stunt, the billionaire said he was “enjoying wearing a kilt”.
“Despite the weather it is nice to have a bit of fresh air and it is very comfortable,” he added.
“I’ve got to the age where it is wise to always wear something under my kilt- especially in weather like this.”
This is not the first time Richard Branson has resorted to such uncouth publicity stunts.
The new Little Red service launched yesterday will be the first time Virgin Atlantic has operated connecting flights from Scottish destinations, and Richard Branson said he was “excited” to have been given the airport slots that came available after domestic airline British Midlands was forced out of business.
“We are delighted that we managed to pick up these slots as it means we can offer stiff competition to British Airways,” he said.
“There are a lot of people from around the world who love to fly to Edinburgh and Aberdeen and now we can finally now compete properly with BA and give people the opportunity to travel up here with Virgin.
“I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Scotland.”
The expanded Virgin Atlantic service will create 130 new jobs in Scotland, and is expected to generate £75 million ($118 million) in revenue for the Scottish economy.
Speaking yesterday, Richard Branson said that while he was “thrilled” that Virgin had finally been allowed to expand services to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, he was unhappy that they had been prevented from operating out of Glasgow.
“I would love to be flying to Glasgow as well, but for some bizarre reason the competition authorities, who bequeathed us these slots, didn’t allow us to have the slots to compete with British airways out of Glasgow,” he said.
After reporting losses of up to £135 million ($212 million) over the past two years, Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic’s new Chief Executive, Craig Kreeger, said that the new domestic service was just one part of the company’s plans to push its finances back into the black.
And despite his brazen publicity stunt, Richard Branson was insistent that he would remain on neutral ground over the question of Scottish Independence.
“If Scotland becomes independent they will have an airline that will be delighted to connect them to their neighboring country and if it stays part of Great Britain, we will be equally delighted to have Scottish people use our services to take visits down to little old England,” said Richard Branson.
Either way, Virgin will stay independent of this particular debate.”
Delta Air Lines has agreed a deal to buy Singapore Airlines’ 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic for $360 million.
Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson will retain a 51% shareholding, and the Virgin brand will remain in place, the new partners said in a joint statement.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval in the US and Europe.
It follows a spat between Sir Richard Branson and Willie Walsh, boss of BA-owner International Airlines Group over the future of Virgin Atlantic.
Earlier, Willie Walsh offered to wager a “knee in the groin” in a bet with Sir Richard Branson over whether the Virgin brand would still be around in five years.
He was responding to a £1 million ($1.5 million) bet offered by Sir Richard Branson on Monday.
Delta Air Lines has agreed a deal to buy Singapore Airlines’ 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic for $360 million
Virgin and Delta said the deal would allow them to “overcome slot constraints” and offer more flights from Heathrow.
The carriers will operate 31 peak-day round trips between the UK and North America.
“Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the UK, particularly on the New York-London route,” said Delta boss Richard Anderson.
Sir Richard Branson said it was an “exciting day” in Virgin’s history.
“It signals the start of a new era of expansion, financial growth and many opportunities for our customers and our business.”
Singapore Airlines is selling its stake, which it has owned since 1999, because of increased competition in its local market.
airlines in particular have mushroomed, threatening more traditional carriers like Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines has itself launched a low-cost carrier, called Scoot, and has been putting money into its regional service, SilkAir.
Katherine Goldberg, a teacher from Ealing, west London, who groped a Virgin Atlantic steward and demanded sex while drunk on the plane, has avoided a jail sentence today.
Katherine Goldberg, 25, drank around a pint of whisky on board before apparently grabbing the cabin crew member’s crotch.
In mitigation, Isleworth Crown Court was told that South African-born Katherine Goldberg was convinced that the man was her boyfriend as a result of her “alcohol-induced illusion”.
Katherine Goldberg, who groped a Virgin Atlantic steward and demanded sex while drunk on the plane, has avoided a jail sentence today
Katherine Goldberg, who pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft, was on board a night flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow on August 24 at the time of the episode.
But a judge today said he did not want to impose a “lifetime punishment” on the teacher, who had been working at her mother Debbie’s Montessori nursery, St Michael’s, Barnes, South-West London.
The teacher has been suspended since the sex assault and her lawyers claimed she was liable to be struck off if she was jailed or placed on the sex offenders’ register.
The court heard Katherine Goldberg had downed “at least 50 centilitres of whisky” when the incident took place.
Prosecutor James O’Connell said at first the techer’s behaviour on the flight was described by witnesses as “very irritating” because she disturbed them while they were trying to rest.
Katherine Goldberg was eventually moved to the plane’s galley where one member of the cabin crew “took an interest in her care” and tried to calm her down.
James O’Connell went on: “However, it was at this point that the defendant’s antics changed and became rather sexual.
“She sat on his lap and grabbed hold of his genitalia through his trousers.”
Katherine Goldberg also spoke to the man suggestively and kept “making offers to him”, the court heard.
The woman was heard to tell the air steward: “Let me and you go somewhere. You can touch me anywhere you want, I don’t mind.”
James O’Connell said Katherine Goldberg was also heard to say the names of two men.
The prosecutor added: “In her complete alcoholic funk she was confusing him with her current boyfriend, Clayton, and Owen, a previous boyfriend.
“She was somehow imagining this was her boyfriend with whom she was interacting.”
Katherine Goldberg eventually went to sleep for around an hour but then woke up and continued to be loud and disruptive, the court was told.
Eventually the woman slept again, and remained asleep until the plane landed at Heathrow and she was met by police.
James O’Connell said she was “very co-operative” with the officers who questioned her, and admitted she had no recollection of events on board the plane but was very apologetic.
The total amount that Katherine Goldberg had drunk was not mentioned in court but it was believed she consumed her own alcohol that she had taken on board, rather than that supplied by cabin crew.
The air steward Katherine Goldberg sexually assaulted, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was said to have been unaffected by the incident.
The court was told that Katherine Goldberg has since admitted to having an alcohol problem and now attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week.
She also went on a one-month residential course after realizing she had hit “rock bottom”.
Katherine Goldberg was fined £1,500 ($2,300), ordered to carry out an 11-month community order and 80 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £250 ($380) costs.
The new British Airways campaign cost £20 million ($30 million) and was supposed to usher in a new, mistake-free era.
But British Airways found a rival Virgin Atlantic plane in the company’s new TV advert, “Aviators”.
Luckily an eagle-eyed BA engineer spotted the error during a screening of the film to thousands of staff just a day before its official launch.
British Airways’ advertising agency, BBH, were then called upon to make an emergency edit to ensure the 90-second ad, which charts the history of the company, was corrected.
British Airways found a rival Virgin Atlantic plane in the company's new TV advert, “Aviators”
The offending clip showed a row of three British Airways Boeing 747s sitting on the tarmac. The closest displays the serial code G-VGAL, the marking for a Virgin Atlantic plane based in Manchester.
According to Sunday Mirror, the film’s CGI experts had put British Airways’ livery on the Virgin plane, but had forgotten to remove it.
By the time the ad was unveiled to the media and screened on television the Virgin code had been replaced with the correct British Airways markings.
A British Airways source told Sunday Mirror:
“The mistake was highly embarrassing – especially as Virgin Atlantic is BA’s prime competitor.
“Great pride had been taken in the detail of the advert, and the fact that so much money had been spent on it.
“Thanks to the quick thinking of one of the engineers they saved the blushes of all the senior management at BA, as well the advertising company.”
Before the blunder was spotted British Airways officials had lavished praise on the advert’s director Frederic Planchon on the company’s Facebook page.
Ironically the BA offcials wrote: “His (Planchon’s) attention to detail is second to none.”
A British Airways spokesman told the Sunday Mirror:
“The ad is complex and richly detailed, and its production involved an extensive editing process.
“This process had not been ¬completed by the time we needed to send preview DVDs to our workforce.”