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.
61 year old Branson has become the oldest person to kitesurf across the English Channel. His son, Sam, set the speed record yesterday.
ITV Meridian reports exclusively on how experts from the South strip-out and re-fit Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 747 fleet.
Sir Richard Branson spoke to Sangeeta Bhabra at a party to launch Virgin Atlantic Airway's new uniform for flight crew in London.
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.
– Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive at Virgin Atlantic
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.”
Sir Richard Branson has sold his Oxfordshire estate and is living on his holiday island of Necker in the British Virgin Islands. The estate has been bought by his children. Sir Richard has worked in the UK for 40 years, building up his vast Virgin empire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Virgin Media, part owned by Oxfordshire's Richard Branson, is to be sold to US tycoon John Malone's Liberty Global in a deal worth more than twelve million pounds.
The company supplies almost five million households in the UK. Richard Branson will reportedly make around $316 million from the buyout.
Sir Richard taking part in a colourful parade in Mumbai to mark the start of a Virgin Atlantic route from Heathrow.
The tycoon from Oxfordshire is leading a delegation to India to boost trade between India and the UK.
Hundreds of local media turned out to welcome him.