Virgin Atlantic, which celebrated the first anniversary of its first route into the Middle East on March 28, is currently in the process of appointing passenger sales agents around the GCC.
The airline is partnered with Sharaf Travel in the UAE, and will extend that partnership to Oman, Stephanie Price-Whittle, marketing communications manager, UAE, told TTN. Virgin has identified Regency Travel & Tourism for the Qatar market, and is currently looking at options in Bahrain and Kuwait, she said.
The airline’s started operations between London and Dubai last year on March 28, and celebrated this year by giving birthday gifts to passengers arriving and departing on the birthday flight. The route was launched with four weekly flights to London Heathrow and went daily from June 2. It is operated on the Airbus A340-600.
Andrew Fyfe, regional manager, Middle East and Indian Ocean said, “We are very pleased with the performance on the route since it started one year ago. With a daily service in addition to convenient connections to the US, Virgin has competed successfully on the route, flying over 135,000 passengers.”
The airline captured a route passenger share of approximately 12 per cent against a capacity share of eight per cent, it said.
On arrival one year ago Virgin Atlantic set out to offer a competitive product and service for both business and leisure travellers. Fyfe said, “Business class is an extremely competitive market in this region and our Upper Class product has been extremely well received in the Dubai, providing passengers with a unique and innovative product which includes the award winning Upper Class Suite – the biggest flat bed in its class, chauffeur driven transfers to and from the airport, inflight beauty therapy, London Heathrow Drive Thru Check In and Clubhouse at Heathrow.
Commenting on recent reports that Virgin is planning a second daily flight, Fyfe said, “We have had great success on the Dubai route in the first year of operation and are always keeping a second daily service under constant review. Dubai is growing rapidly and attracting more tourists and business opportunities are increasing all the time. We are very excited to be operating in this environment where our partners such as the Dubai Civil Aviation authority have been very welcoming and supportive.”
In September 2006 Virgin announced it had spent $12 million revamping its Premium Economy product with a bigger leather seat, dedicated cabin and crew, new meal service and with priority check-in and boarding.
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