Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Aberdeen-Heathrow flights face the axe

Virgin Atlantic's Little Red service is said to face an uncertain future
Virgin Atlantic's Little Red service is said to face an uncertain future

Vital flights between Aberdeen and Heathrow Airport could be under threat amid fears Virgin is to axe its Little Red service after just 18 months.

The firm’s domestic airline – which set up the services last year to take on British Airways – has been flying planes which on average were less 40% full over the past 12 months.

It hoped to feed passengers from the north of Scotland into Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul network from Heathrow – but the spin-off operation has been the subject of intense speculation over its performance.

Last night, Virgin remained tight-lipped about reports that an internal review had recommended Little Red be closed.

However, north-east business leaders warned cutting the service would be a huge blow for the region’s economy.

Sir Richard Branson launched Little Red last March saying: “We will stop British Airways from dominating routes and driving higher prices.”

It began with flights from three cities – Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – and took over landing slots BA was forced to relinquish under EU law when it took over BMI.

But aviation sources claim that a review led by Craig Kreeger, Virgin’s chief executive, will reshape the network in the coming months.

Peter Argyle, chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee and head of the region’s Nestrans transport group, said the withdrawal of the Aberdeen flights would be a huge blow for the north-east.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, who helped Virgin secure the Aberdeen-Heathrow slots, said that if the airlines did pull the plug, it was “crucial” that the Aberdeen-Heathrow slots be protected.

The Gordon MP said: “The fight we now have is to protect the slots – because once they are gone, they are very difficult to get back.

“The north-east needs all of these links to London, but sometimes these flights are not full. At the end of the day, we are dealing with commercial airlines.”

Data collated by the UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, confirmed that Little Red has faced poor ticket sales in its launch year.

Its load factor – indicating how many seats flown were actually occupied – was just 37.6% in 2013, the lowest in the industry.

Asked about Little Red’s future, Virgin said: “We look at Little Red through the same lens as the rest of the business – it must deliver on performance, potential or strategic contribution.

“Little Red is still in its growth phase, so it is too early to comment on these criteria.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]