British and brash, Virgin Atlantic Airways is a leading player in Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group collection of branded companies. From its hubs in the UK, the airline serves about 35 destinations around the world with a fleet of almost 40 aircraft. It extends its network via code-sharing relationships with carriers such as All Nippon, US Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Australia-based sister company Virgin Blue. (Code-sharing allows airlines to sell tickets on one another's flights and thus offer potential passengers more destinations.) The airline's cargo unit provides service from more than 60 offices worldwide. Virgin Group owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines owns a 49% stake.
Virgin Atlantic competes fiercely with UK flag carrier British Airways (BA) for long-haul traffic out of London, particularly to the US. Besides taking advantage of the popular Virgin brand, it has worked to distinguish itself with offerings such as drive-through check-in service.
Virgin Atlantic is pursuing growth by introducing service to developing regions; it flies to Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Dubai. Tie-ups are also fundamental to cutting costs and increasing traffic. In 2011 it inked a code sharing agreement with Air New Zealand for routes between New Zealand and the UK.
To better accommodate long-haul growth, Virgin Atlantic is adding ten of Airbus's more fuel-efficient A330-300s to its fleet and has additionally ordered 15 of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner wide-body, fuel-efficient planes, for delivery in 2014. The company has also ordered half a dozen Airbus double-decker A380s for delivery in 2015.
In a case alleging that BA colluded with Virgin Atlantic to fix prices between 2004 and 2006, BA has been fined more than £58 million ($94 million). Virgin Atlantic was spared a fine because it reported the allegation. – less