Branson backs new runways

In an exclusive interview with ITV Meridian Sir Richard Branson says he wants a new runway at Gatwick - as well as two more at Heathrow.

Branson in new world record

61 year old Branson has become the oldest person to kitesurf across the English Channel. His son, Sam, set the speed record yesterday.

Technicians refitting 7474 plane

Jumbo-sized make-over for fleet

ITV Meridian reports exclusively on how experts from the South strip-out and re-fit Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 747 fleet.

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Vivienne Westwood unveils her designs for the Virgin Atlantic crew uniform

Vivienne Westwood with members of the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew in their new uniforms Credit: Rex Features
Blondie with lead singer, Debbie Harry sporting a Virgin Atlantic crew jacket, at the launch party Credit: Rex Features
Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie, at the Virgin Atlantic new uniform launch Credit: Rex Features

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Virgin to axe Australia flights from May

A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic told ITV Meridian that the last flight departing Sydney to Hong Kong bringing passengers back to the UK will be on 5th May 2014, The last flight departing Hong Kong to Sydney will be on the day before.

Up to that date, Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate its published schedule and Virgin Atlantic say customers can be confident booking flights for travel prior to then. The move will affect some staff based in Sydney and Hong Kong. A consultation period has commenced with them.

In a statement the airline's Chief Executive explained why they'd make the decision.

Unfortunately we intend to withdraw our services between Sydney and Hong Kong. Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors such as increasing costs and a weakening Australian dollar have affected our profitability. These are still difficult times for the airline industry and as part of our strategy to operate more efficiently, we need to deploy our aircraft to routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable.”

– Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive at Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic's new Chief Executive vows to return the airline to profit

Virgin Atlantic planes at Heathrow Airport as Virgin Atlantic's new boss vowed to get the airline back in profit within two years Credit: PA Wire

Chief executive Craig Kreeger said weak economic conditions and the Olympic Games in London, which dented demand for business travel, were factors in the airline's latest loss of £93 million for the year to February 28.

New chief executive of Virgin Atlantic Craig Kreeger who has vowed to get the airline back in profit Credit: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire

It has also suffered from high fuel costs, strong competition on transatlantic routes and taxes on UK air travel, although the figures showed it still increased revenues by 5% to £2.9 billion. It carried 5.5 million passengers in the period, an increase of 188,000 on a year earlier.

Mr Kreeger, who took over from Steve Ridgway as chief executive in February after a 27-year career at American Airlines, recently announced a staff pay freeze as part of a wider cost-cutting programme at the airline's Gatwick HQ and across the company.

Virgin hopes that its ties with US operator Delta, which acquired a 49% stake in the airline last year, will help it compete more forcefully with the British Airways-American Airlines alliance in the lucrative transatlantic market.

Today's airline loss contributed to a pre-tax deficit of £69.9 million for the wider group, which includes** **Virgin Holidays. The previous year's group loss was £80.2 million, with the airline deficit being £98.6 million in 2012.

Dame Vivienne & Sir Richard's sartorial Virgin partnership

Dame Vivienne Westwood and Sir Richard Branson in partnership

For the new uniforms, Vivienne Westwood wanted to create a futuristic look which references her enduring interest in 40’s French couture. The collaboration between the two leading British brands is a long-term partnership which will see a total re-design of the uniform across all areas.

Vivienne Westwood's new design for Virgin Atlantic uniforms - the women
Vivienne Westwood's new design for Virgin Atlantic uniforms - the men

Over 7,500 staff will receive new uniforms and employees based at Virgin Atlantic's West Sussex headquarters have been involved in the design process.

Passengers will get a sneak peek of the new uniforms from July 2013 when cabin crew and ground staff trial the uniform at the airports and on board. Crew will provide feedback on the design, practicality and wearability so tweaks can be made ahead of the full launch in 2014.

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Branson's joy as sound is barrier beaten by Virgin Galactic

The picture on Sir Richard Branson's blog as he celebrated the news today Credit: Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard was with the ground team in the Mojave Desert in New Mexico to witness what he describes as 'the single most important flight test to date' for Virgin Galactic space travel programme. Two key elements of their spaceflight system came together today. The spacecraft and its rocket motor.

Both had been extensively on their own over several years, this was the first time they'd been tested together. Sir Richard praised the work of the team working on the project to reach this milestone.

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