by Bradley Gerrard, The Telegraph, July 31, 2017
Virgin Atlantic’s boss has claimed the airline will overtake its big rivals in the lucrative transatlantic market following a tie-up with Air France.
The deal, which saw Virgin Group sell a 31pc stake to Air France-KLM, means the airline will collectively offer more than 300 daily non-stop flights between North America and Europe and the UK.
Craig Kreeger said if each airline’s London presence was taken into account, “that gets us collectively to the top spot” in terms of capacity.
The company added it would also be the number one from cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and LA.
While British Airways still holds the dominant position for flights to the US from Heathrow, the London dominance of Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture has the potential to irk Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s owner IAG, given his rivalry with Sir Richard Branson.
However, Mr Walsh was upbeat when IAG reported a steep 37pc jump in profits to €975m (£873m) the day after the Virgin deal was announced.
Mr Walsh said IAG would not be changing how it operates in response to the new rival alliance, adding the deal only served to support the argument that consolidation in the industry made sense.
Airlines are already relatively intertwined but the trend only looks set to continue with Qatar Airways snapping up stakes in competitors.