Virgin loses Moscow route right

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The Independent Online
RICHARD BRANSON yesterday questioned the Government's commitment to airline competition after his airline, Virgin, lost the right to operate flights from London to Moscow.

Rival airline British Midland won an appeal against a UK Civil Aviation Authority decision to award Virgin a licence to fly on the route, which became available as part of an Anglo-Russian agreement to break the current British Airways-Aeroflot duopoly.

Virgin said it planned to appeal against the Moscow decision to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister (pictured), who ordered the CAA to re-hear the licensing application following British Midland's appeal. This is the first time the Government has in effect over-ruled the CAA, and means that Virgin has lost three route applications in the last 12 months. Virgin lost the rights to fly to Las Vegas, US, and to Cape Town, South Africa, on both routes losing to BA. A decision is expected next week on the tussle between the two carriers to operate the new Shanghai route.