As rules on the allocation of new slots at London Heathrow are reviewed by the UK government ahead of the eventual arrival of a third runway, Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) has unveiled plans for 84 new destinations from the hub when the runway opens, which is expected by 2026.

The huge expansion of its network depends on how many additional slots it obtains, but chief executive Shai Weiss claimed in a statement that the airport had been dominated by British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) and its parent IAG International Airlines Group “for far too long”.

As previously reported, a recent report commissioned by Virgin Atlantic found that IAG holds 55% of Heathrow's slots. Virgin Atlantic itself holds 7%.

Of the 84 prospective new routes, 35 are long-haul including unserved destinations such as Kolkata Int'l, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta, and Panamá City Tocumen Int'l, as well as destinations like Vancouver Int'l, México City Int'l, Santiago de Chile Int'l, Cape Town, Xi'an Xianyang, Singapore Changi, and Sydney Kingsford Smith. Twelve are in the UK, while destinations in Europe cover everywhere from Amsterdam Schiphol to Zurich. Virgin Atlantic claimed it intended to compete on 26 routes where IAG and joint venture partners currently have a monopoly, such as Accra, Buenos Aires Ezeiza, and San Diego Int'l.

“Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive,” Weiss said.

However, IAG retorted in a statement: “Virgin had the opportunity to increase its slot share at Heathrow to 19.7% by buying slots but it chose not to do so. The airline has failed to create more competition at the airport.”

Virgin Atlantic currently operates 16 routes from London Heathrow, according to the ch-aviation capacities module, the most important being New York JFK (37x weekly frequencies). Ten of the 16 destinations are in the United States.