Virgin Airlines will begin services between London and Dubai on 27 March 2006. The non-stop flights will operate four times a week with the frequency increasing to five times a week from 1 May and daily from 1 June (MEED 3:6:05).

The airline also aims to expand its presence in the region through affiliate Virgin Nigeria, which is developing a network across Africa and into the Gulf. ‘That [Virgin Nigeria] will fly to Dubai very soon,’ said Branson.

Commenting on Virgin’s presence in the region and growing competition, Branson said: ‘It is likely that competition will drive prices down, not only for Virgin flights, but for Emiratesand British Airwaysas well.’