British Airways claims it has not suffered market share to Virgin Atlantic’s UK domestic carrier Little Red, as the spin-off airline approaches one year of operations.
Little Red began services in March 2013 on routes between London Heathrow and the cities of Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But UK Civil Aviation Authority statistics for domestic scheduled operations show that Little Red’s load factor has been poor compared with that of BA.
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The latest data available, for November 2013, puts BA’s load factor at 72% while Little Red’s is less than half this figure, at 35%. Little Red’s highest loads last year were still below the mid-40 mark at a point when BA’s were approaching 80%.
BA chief executive Keith Williams, speaking during parent firm IAG’s full-year results event, said the carrier was “very pleased” with its performance against Little Red. “What we’re seeing is no loss of market share [away from] BA. We’ve increased our flying from Scotland into London, that’s going particularly well,” he says.
“So in terms of retaining our connecting traffic through Heathrow, it’s still the same as it was.” Virgin Atlantic chief Craig Kreeger had admitted last November that load factors were light, but said that this had been expected and that the airline was starting to see a number of connecting passengers using the service.