Virgin Express Announces Expansion to German Base

Brussels, 10th July 2002 - In line with its stated intention to expand its operations Virgin Express, the low fare European airline, announces that it will commence flights from Köln-Bonn airport in December 2002. It has secured take off and landing slots to Köln-Bonn from a number of key destinations for the winter season and expects to expand this portfolio for the following summer. Virgin Express foresees demand for up to 20 aircraft in Germany by 2006.

Recruitment of German-based crews and ground staff for the Köln-Bonn operation will start in the autumn.

The airline, which was profitable last year and forecasts profit again for 2002, sees the development as an important step forward in its growth. The German market offers great opportunities and Virgin Express feels that it is the airline best prepared to develop them.

With the best punctuality record in Europe and a reputation for customer care, the Virgin Express product is well suited to the German market. Year to date more than nine out of ten Virgin Express flights depart and arrive on time and customer satisfaction levels are high, reflecting the value for money business model. This model is in line with the philosophy of all companies connected with the Virgin Group.

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman Emeritus of Virgin Express, commented:


“I am absolutely delighted that the Virgin Express product will be at the front of the wave of change that will shortly sweep over German aviation, bringing affordable fares to air travellers throughout the country. I shall be keeping a close watch on developments and giving my full support to the project. Virgin has revolutionised low fare travel in Belgium and Australia and we look forward very much to the new challenge in Germany.”
Virgin Express is the only airline with six years` experience of operating as a low fare carrier with its headquarters and workforce based on mainland Europe. Over the past eighteen months the company has lowered its cost base to 6.5 Euro cents per available seat kilometre (ASK), has reduced its aircraft ownership costs and has pioneered a distribution and sales model well suited to the market on mainland Europe.

The headquarters of the airline will remain in Brussels and the intention of the company is to reinforce its position at Brussels Airport, where Virgin Express is at present the largest carrier. Nearly one in six travellers who checks in at Brussels Airport is a Virgin Express passenger.

At present Virgin Express offers from Brussels flights to 14 major European destinations: Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Faro, Geneva, Gothenburg, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Madrid, Malaga, Milan Linate, Nice, Rome and Stockholm.