BA and Virgin Atlantic cut prices, Virgin cutting everything else
What a difference a fortnight makes. Virgin Atlantic celebrated its 25th birthday with Bearded Mogul (TM) Richard Branson claiming the carrier was in great shape despite the recession, going on to blow £1.3 billion on new aircraft to prove the point before boozing most of its £68 million profit away on a transatlantic bash.
Then last week Virgin Atlantic announced it was looking to chop up to 600 jobs and reduce the number of flights it operates over the coming winter. The daily service between London Heathrow and Chicago will be axed for the season - a service it only launched just two years ago - as well as dropping frequency on other routes.
Chief executive Steve Ridgway either didn't get invited to the party or didn't see Branson's script, and said:
"The outlook for the industry is as bleak as ever and all airlines are having to shrink their businesses. We will look to minimize the number of compulsory redundancies and ensure we treat our staff as fairly as possible."
Now the airline has announced a massive reduction in baggage allowance - for premium fares. From September, the maximum weight of each bag allowed will be reduced from 32kg to 23kg. Given that it's the premium passengers that generate the profit for any airline, it seems an odd cost-cutting move to cut their benefits and reduce their baggage limit by nearly 30%.
Both Virgin and British Airways have launched near-identical sales today - both are offering return economy to the US from £259 in a sale that ends on July 14th, although Virgin Atlantic are currently offering a more extensive choice of dates into next year.