Virgin to trigger price war on London-Dubai route

DUBAI — Virgin Airlines has announced that in early next year the carrier would begin competing in the London-Dubai route making air travel between these two destinations lot cheaper.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 10 Aug 2005, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:13 PM

Carriers currently servicing this route, including British Airways and Emirates airline, will now face stiff competition as Virgin has promised to offer lower fares than currently available. Spokespeople for the carrier have announced that fares can be expected to be in the range of £375, in many cases this is as much as £200 cheaper than BA or Emirates. Doha-based Qatar Airlines, another competitor on the route, has already responded by slashing prices and offering extra bonuses to frequent fliers.

With an opening date set for March 2006, Virgin plans to send 4 flights a week on the overnight trip, until May, when it will increase to 5. Starting in June 2006, it will increase to 7.

But it is clear that Virgin is trying mainly to attract business for the upper-class fares. It is believed that Virgin will offer its upper-class tickets for somewhere in the neighborhood of £1300, again £200 cheaper than current average.

As such, the advertising camping for the London-Dubai route touts the amenities of Virgin upper-class service. Upper-class service will include limo service to and from the airport, Drive Thru Check In, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse including Business Centre and Virgin Touch Salon, the restaurant style in-flight Freedom menu and a state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system.

Dubai is an increasingly popular tourist destination for wealthy Britons, and thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign by Dubai tourism officials, looks to increase in popularity. This appears to be Virgin's first attempt to capitalize on this growing popularity.

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson expects to pick up a fair share of this extremely popular and fast-growing route “There is still huge investment going into Dubai which is expected to continue for many more years, so the market will undoubtedly grow further. It will be a challenging route as we will be up against a number of carriers including Emirates, one of the best airlines in the world, but Virgin Atlantic has always thrived on competition and we believe our entry into the market is good news for passengers.”

British tourism in Dubai has been growing significantly and shows no signs of slowing down. Some 650,000 British tourists visited the UAE in 2004 and as many as 100,000 British nationals are resident there. Recently surpassing Tenerife as a winter holiday spot of weather-weary Britons, Dubai is now second only to Barbados in terms of number of Britons visiting.

Virgin has clearly recognized this trend. In July 2005, Branson said, “It is the perfect holiday destination with all the key ingredients of sun, sea and sand guaranteed! It already offers some of the most stunning new hotels in the world and even more amazing hotels, leisure resorts and amenities are currently being built.”

Branson's not the only travel executive excited about the growing numbers of European tourists in Dubai. Travel magnate and easyGroup founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has made his intention clear to expand his easyCruise cruise line to the Emirate.

The easyCruise line, a highly publicised recent extension of the easyGroup franchise, which owns easyJet, has announced its intention to open a line out of Dubai in May. It will use the conglomerate's highly successful formula of bargain prices and online sales. EasyCruise currently operates only in the French Mediterranean and the Caribbean. It has not yet been announced but the company will charge for cruise fares, but current fares average at around £60 per night.

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