Virgin prepares for regional take-off

18 November 2005
UK-based Virgin Airlinesis considering more flights to the region as it prepares to begin services to Dubai next March. 'We are currently in talks to start flights to Abu Dhabi, and we expect to start talks with Qatar soon,' Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Airlines, said at a press conference in Dubai on 16 November.

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.'

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