Little Red was launched in March 2013 as an attempt to reintroduce consumer choice on key domestic services after British Airways’ takeover of bmi gifted them a monopoly on these routes.
Over the past eighteen months over a million passengers flew between London, Scotland and Manchester, Virgin Atlantic told. However the demand has been predominantly in direct – point to point – customers rather than connecting traffic. High levels of connections onto Virgin Atlantic’s long haul network have always been important to the success of Little Red.
Chief Executive Craig Kreeger has committed to returning Virgin Atlantic to profit by the end of this year and the airline is on track to deliver that, however Little Red has unfortunately not been able to make a positive contribution to Virgin Atlantic’s network.
Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Craig Kreeger said: “Little Red ultimately did not deliver the results we had hoped.“
The President of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson, 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 on a short-term basis and decided to lease a couple of planes and give it our best shot. The odds were stacked against us and sadly we just couldn’t attract enough corporate business on these routes. We will stop flying the Little Red services between Manchester and London at the end of March 2015 and the Aberdeen and Edinburgh services at the end of September 2015.
The airline remains committed to its operations in both Manchester and Scotland. Its existing services from Manchester to Orlando, Barbados and Las Vegas will continue, with the addition next summer of a new daily Virgin Atlantic flight between Manchester and Atlanta. In Scotland, the popular seasonal service from Glasgow to Orlando will continue with eight extra return flights just announced for summer 2015, alongside a new five rotation operation between Glasgow and Las Vegas.
The decision on the airline’s short haul carrier follows a major review of Virgin Atlantic’s wider network. Last month the airline announced a network update delivering five new daily transatlantic flights and an ambition to grow to record levels of sustained profitability by 2018. This will be supported by a major programme of work that will see £300m invested into customer experience.