Virgin Atlantic codeshares with Transaero on Heathrow-Moscow route

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Virgin Atlantic Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with Russian carrier Transaero, just weeks after announcing tentative plans to launch its own service to Moscow.

From September, Virgin will place its code on Transaero-operated flights between London Heathrow and Moscow Domodedovo airports.

In return, Transaero's code will be applied to Virgin-operated services from London Gatwick airport to Orlando, and from London Heathrow airport to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.

Virgin said last month that it plans to launch its own flights from London Heathrow to Moscow in 2013 - but only on the condition that its bid for slot pairs auctioned off by rival IAG is successful.

IAG has committed to handing over 12 daily slot pairs at the UK's largest hub in order to appease competition regulators concerned about its acquisition of BMI.

Seven of the slot pairs must be deployed on flights to Edinburgh or Aberdeen, while the remaining five have been earmarked for Moscow, Cairo, Nice, Riyadh and Edinburgh or Aberdeen.

IAG must also relinquish ownership of two slot pairs that are currently being leased to Transaero for its Moscow route - the same slots which will now be utilised by Virgin on a codeshare basis.

The deadline for airlines to submit bids for IAG's 12 other slot pairs is today (23 August).

Separately, Virgin and US Airways have also extended their codeshare agreement. The former will now place its code on US Airways-operated services from London Heathrow to Philadelphia, as well as to several outbound domestic services from Boston.