Where do we see VA heading in the next 18 months. New routes / heading back to the East/ Australia??
A very interesting question. I would assume that the VS (Atlantic) and VH (Holidays) elements of synergy would continue on leisure routes and mixed business/leisure routes (as effectively the hotel arrangements / discounts they get are shared between VS flight plus hotel and VH package holidays?) so the first routes the management would look at would be those they have good data on such as previously operated routes and VH destinations currently offered on other airlines metal. After that they might get some data from alliance partners and/or loiter around the departure lounges of some competitors to see if any load factor information could guide them on potential new routes. Then after that there might be some blue sky thinking on totally new destinations (for example doing new multi-drop Carib or African/Asian routes tacking a new destination on to existing routes as a lower risk start-up).
While LHR and LGW aren't the only slot-limited airports used by VS I would expect availability and the timing of slots there either from their existing allocation or that they could slot-swap or any that come available also affects options on routes they could consider even if the destination is not slot-limited (as some destinations that are not slot limited are nevertheless on limited opening hours such that your take off slot might result in a target for landing slot that is simply impractical (too close to closing time or just plain wrong time of day/night for either leisure or business travelers to want to arrive and, after a 2-3 hour turnaround, depart)).
I'm sure there are plenty of others on the forum with better perspectives on past routes but my thought would be a low risk expansion into other Carib destinations for leisure and, perhaps more risky, exploring Canada for a business/leisure combo (Montreal or Toronto?) but others will surely highlight some potential in Asia?
Interesting times......hard to take potentially expensive risks on new routes after such heavy financial costs during the crisis but unless planning aircraft lease early retirements or a fire sale of slots they will have aircraft and slots to do something with while 'going back to routes exactly as pre-crisis' is also not without risk.