Virgin Atlantic has been eyeing the London-Moscow route for about 20 years now. Recently, European low cost carrier EasyJet announced that they would discontinue the route. According to founder Richard Branson in an interview with the Sputnik news agency, Branson said the company became interested after EasyJet announced its plans to would stop flying to Moscow next year.
“We are actually looking at possibly trying to fly to Moscow at the moment because EasyJet has just stopped flying, so we are actually thinking about maybe taking their license and flying to Moscow… So that’s possible,” he said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
EasyJet is currently the only budget airline flying between Moscow and London, while British Airways, Aeroflot and Transaero still operate the route with full service flights. In March 2016 EasyJet cited lack of demand, instability in the Russian economy and the tightening of the visa approval procedures for its termination of the service.
The Russian-British inter-governmental agreement on flights between the two capitals, can currently only be represented by a maximum of two carriers, one from each country. Currently, Aeroflot and Transaero operate from Russia while EasyJet and British Airways operate from the UK.
In 2012, Virgin Atlantic applied for the route buy lost the bid to EasyJet to fly to Moscow. Delta Airlines, who owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, currently flies between New York and Moscow daily, however this route will be reduced due to seasonal flying until next spring. The new Virgin route, if approved, is expected to give British Airways some completion on the route as Virgin will be able to offer a true business class product on the route as well.