UK aviation regulator allows easyJet to operate London - Moscow flights

With it decision to grant easyJet certification to fly between London and Moscow, the UK aviation regulator has enabled budget airlines to offer an alternative to full-service carriers.

On Wednesday the Civil Aviation Authority went along with the Luton-based easyJet rather than Virgin Atlantic, which had argued that it could better compete with British Airways, the original Moscow-route certified carrier, for business travellers.

Virgin argued that it could provide better value and service that would appeal to a range of customers.

According to Carolyn McCall, easyJet's chief executive, 10 million of its passengers annually were business passengers, which was double Virgin's total number of passengers. She had earlier testified at a CAA hearing three weeks ago.

The London-Moscow flight opportunity opened up this year when BMI, which held the right, was bought by British Airways' parent company, International Airlines Group, and incorporated into the UK flagship carrier. A bilateral agreement with Russia only provides for two UK airlines and two Russian carriers to fly between the two capitals.

The Russian airlines that operate London Moscow flights are Aeroflot and Transaero.