Virgin Atlantic has celebrated the 25th anniversary of flights between London Heathrow and Miami. The event took place in Miami Beach, where Branson performed a Miami Vice-themed stunt – a speedboat chase with Victoria Secret model Karolina Kurkova.
Speaking at the event Branson said:
“Miami and Virgin are synonymous with fun. Our passengers love coming to Miami – it has some of the best clubs in the world, great restaurants and beaches. We thought it would be a good marriage, and it has lasted 25 years.”
Branson also used the celebration to announce the carrier’s forthcoming route to Cancun (see online news June 17), and the entrpreneur spoke about how some of Virgin’s other routes are faring:
“San Francisco is now doing well because we’ve got Virgin America based out there now. LA’s doing well too. Tokyo is in real pain because of what’s happened with the earthquake and that’s been tough.”
“We don’t want to drop any of the routes we’re flying, and there are many routes we could be flying – Bangkok, Atlanta, Singapore, Malaysia –if the slots issue was resolved.
“The difficulty is you’ve got the mayor of London pushing for a new airport and that would take 20 years – and it’s just a political hot potato – we need a government which has a good majority to be willing and brave to push it through. In the meantime I think there could be more done with mixed mode.”
Branson also reiterated his desire to keep control of the airline, following speculation that he might be prepared to sell part of his stake in the carrier:
”I would certainly never sell all of it. Virgin Atlantic is my beautiful 27 year-old baby – I’ve seen her grow up alongside my daughter and I’ll still be involved until I drop.
“I think if there was a strategic alliance and they wanted shares then I think that would be forthcoming from Singapore Airlines, not myself. If there was a fantastic alliance on the table and it made sense to water down some of my shares then I’d certainly consider it, but it’s not my preference. It’s likely though that I’d be the largest shareholder whatever.”
Virgin recently launched its first A330 aircraft with new in-flight entertainment – for more information and images click here.
Report by Rose Dykins