Next month, the CAA will decide who is to take over BMI’s right to fly from London to Moscow. The deal between the British and Russian governments means that two airlines from each country can fly the route. As part of the deal to take over BMI, BA had to give up BMI’s rights on the route. The two contenders are easyJet and Virgin Atlantic.
This really should be an open-and-shut case. EasyJet is the only choice that will actually bring something new to the route and be a genuine benefit for passengers.
I am not a big fan of Russian airlines but it has to be said that both Aeroflot and Transaero offer high quality service on their flights to London. It is a prestigious and profitable route and they know they have to work hard to fight British Airways.
If Virgin were allowed to take over BMI’s rights on the route, all they would do would be to bring more of the same. Another full-service carrier charging similar fares and offering much the same type of service. Virgin constantly claim they will “shake up” businesses they move into but the reality is different. – they are good at publicity, adding a little stardust and charging high rates.
On the other hand, easyJet can genuinely bring something new to the Moscow route. Fares are high, partly because of demand but also due to high costs and restrictions placed on airlines by the Russians so EasyJet’s scope for reducing fares is limited but it surely exists.
Virgin love to use the “public interest” argument when pushing their businesses. We must hope that the CAA are not intimidated by Virgin’s frequently-used tactics of public intimidation and legal threats. There is no question that in this case, the public interest can only be served by easyJet being given the route.