Virgin Atlantic pushes back over easyJet’s exclusive Moscow deal

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VIRGIN Atlantic boss Steve Ridgway hopes to contest a decision to award easyJet a licence to fly to Moscow, calling the situation “bizarre”.

The airline is combing through last week’s decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to allow easyJet to operate services to the city, under an arrangement with Russia that allows just two carriers from each country to use the route.

“We live in this bizarre world where we’re bilaterally constrained,” he told City A.M. “Actually, easyJet and Virgin should be both able to travel to Russia. That’s what we need to open markets up for consumers. It’s very unfortunate that we had to fight each other for this, we still don’t understand and we’re looking at the judgement.” Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is this week meeting with Russian officials to push for a rule change.

Ridgway also defended Virgin Atlantic’s decision to open up talks with an unnamed aviation alliance, something the firm has criticised in the past. “Historically we’ve been sceptical, and thought they were unstable, but for many years now we’ve said that if the opportunity came along and it was the right one for everyone, we wouldn’t say no.” He could not say if a deal will be done before he steps down next year, saying the firm is instead focused on returning to profit. His successor will be announced before Christmas, with chief commercial officer Julie Southern believed to be the frontrunner.