Virgin will be paying Aer Lingus to operate these flights under a so-called ‘wet lease’ agreement. Aer Lingus will be providing four A320’s for the service, and the crew will be Aer Lingus employees dressed in Virgin uniforms.
The Manchester service starts in March, with the Scottish routes launching in April. They will operate to Terminal 1 at Heathrow, so there will be no opportunity of using the Clubhouse lounge (image above) in Terminal 3. If these flights also operate from the usual Aer Lingus gates, the (surprisingly decent) Aer Lingus lounge will probably become a joint Aer Lingus / Virgin facility – at least until the new Terminal 1/2 opens in 2014.
There is some cynicism about these new Virgin services. It is possible that they will be run for a short period, unprofitably, and then Virgin will ask for permission to use the slots for long-haul services instead.
You shouldn’t read too much into the decision to use Aer Lingus crew, though – it would have been difficult for Virgin to secure aircraft and enough crew to operate the services at relatively short notice. If the routes do work out, the Aer Lingus deal will probably be switched to a Virgin-crewed operation eventually.
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