The pressure on airlines to compete against the ME3 effectively has never been greater. US airlines gave up a few years ago and a few Europeans persist even though the benefits are becoming difficult to justify.
Almost everywhere a major Western airline flies from there is a Qatar or Emirates flight and often both, plus or minus Etihad.
Virgin Atlantic have finally decided to throw in the towel on one of their now few non-North America/Caribbean destinations.
The airline will stop flights from London on March 31st 2019 at the end of the busy winter season for the route.
The facts are that they simply cannot compete on price and schedules with up to 6 Emirates flights a day to and from London Heathrow, plus Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, and New Castle. It’s sucks up any possible traffic. Add to that a daily British Airways flight. That too has long been suspected of operating at a loss, but BA can afford to do so far more than a boutique airline like Virgin Atlantic.
That leaves just Delhi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Shanghai and Hong Kong outside of the airlines primary North American destinations. That’s a lot of eggs in one basket if the US economy tanks as it inevitably will, being at the top of the cycle at present.
Part of the airlines problem is a lack of through-traffic at the non-US destinations, which are for the most part airline dead-ends.
With owner Delta about to be joined by AF-KLM in the new year, controlling 80% of the company, it seems but a matter of when not if, Virgin Atlantic joins Skyteam. That could open up a much wider world of opportunity.