Manchester could be home to a new Virgin Atlantic network hub, according to the airline’s Executive Vice President-Commercial, Juha Jarvinen who touts Thomas Cook’s demise could see the company offer new international and regional flights from Manchester Airport starting next year.
Speaking within an interview marking the launch of the airline’s new route from Heathrow to Tel Aviv, Jarvinen said “By growing Manchester connectivity, we can also grow our long-haul offering there. We believe we can build a network hub in Manchester that nobody has done before.”
Regional carrier Flybe, which holds more than 300 slots at Manchester Airport, will become part of the Virgin group next year following its acquisition by Connect Airways – a consortium by Virgin Atlantic – dramatically boosting Virgin’s flights from Manchester, helping the airline expand its offerings outside of London.
Touching upon the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, which had one of its main bases at Manchester Airport, Jarvinen said Virgin at its eyes set on Manchester prior to the airline’s closure in September, but the demise of the business opens new opportunities for Virgin amid plans to expand its marketshare.
Speaking with Travel Weekly, the executive said: “We will be offering more flights to certain destinations for next winter and we are definitely exploring new destinations from Manchester.”
“That was originally our plan but Thomas Cook’s demise gives us an opportunity. Manchester is definitely our second home and is a region that is underserved both in business and leisure [routes]. We are hoping to further develop Manchester connectivity and are finalising next summer’s flights.”
“By growing Manchester connectivity, we can also grow our long-haul offering there. We believe we can build a network hub in Manchester that nobody has done before. When we welcome Flybe into the Virgin family it becomes easier.”