Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive has challenged claims that its Little Red short-haul feeder service is incurring big losses for the UK carrier, dismissing newspaper reports as "exaggerated".
Asked during the Future of Air Transport conference in London on 25 November how the Little Red operation is performing, Craig Kreeger conceded load factors are "light". But he says this was always expected, and that "reports of its economic losses are exaggerated".
He adds: “It is absolutely working as we expected. Its loads are relatively light, and certainly you’ve been reading about that, but we are now seeing the connecting customers that actually are the key to making this successful."
In October, several UK newspapers alleged Virgin Atlantic was losing millions of pounds a week through Little Red, which operates 13 flights a day between London Heathrow and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester using a fleet of Airbus A320s wet-leased from Aer Lingus.
Kreeger also dismisses the suggestion that Virgin Atlantic will suffer from "terminal issues" when Little Red operations move from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 while Virgin Atlantic services remain at Terminal 3.
He says Virgin’s practice of transferring customers from Little Red flights directly to Terminal 3 has proved "extremely successful in keeping connect time short" and will continue once the operation moves to Terminal 2.