Commenting on the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision, Sir Richard Branson said today:
“The CAA faced the most complex decision in its history with three British airlines competing for 21 services to four Indian cities and their decision to allow Virgin Atlantic to take on BA on Delhi and Mumbai is a good one for consumers in the UK and India.
“We are delighted with the CAA’s decision on Delhi but are disappointed and surprised that we have not been granted a daily service to Mumbai and will appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport against that element of the decision.
“We will commence three of the Delhi services immediately and plan to launch daily services from 1 February 2005.
“We will launch our new three times a week service to and from Mumbai from 1 February (subject to Indian Government approval under their Open Skies deal). This simply isn’t enough - BA utterly dominates, carrying 75% of First and Business class passengers flying directly between the UK and India, and it needs competition on Mumbai on a daily basis from a world-class long haul airline with world-class products and services.
“We’re also disappointed to have been denied the chance to launch new services to Bangalore and will appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport on that decision.
“Virgin gives consumers in both countries an immediate benefit from this decision by launching all its new services from February 2005. We will also use this expansion as a springboard for the development of other Virgin companies in India.”