The Australian debut in December of Virgin Atlantic Airways will link routes with the domestic network of sister carrier Virgin Blue.

When Virgin Atlantic starts its daily London-Sydney service via Hong Kong, the two carriers will co-operate. Virgin Blue's flights to Sydney are so frequent that there is no need to co-ordinate schedules, but the two plan joint marketing and purchases.

They may also consider some form of codeshare, but it would be what Virgin Blue calls a "light codeshare" without checked-through baggage, paper tickets, or central ticket processing. "We still plan on sticking to our low-cost carrier model," says Virgin Blue.

Virgin Atlantic also promises to shake up the competition with British Airways and Qantas on the busy UK-Australia route. It has already challenged their recently-approved joint services agreement (JSA) by asking Australia's competition commission to amend it.

Picking up on the commission's conclusion that BA-Qantas carry 60% of all UK-Australia business travel and 70% of business travellers originating in Australia, Virgin Atlantic argues that the commission should add conditions to minimise the dominance of BA and Qantas. Virgin says they should be forced to relinquish slots at London's Heathrow airport before the commission gives their JSA its final blessing.

Source: Airline Business