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Space travel a step closer says Sir Richard

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.


Airlines challenge Heathrow over expansion costs

Responding to the publication of Heathrow Airport’s future investment plans and charges for the period 2014 to 2019, Virgin Atlantic Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths said:

Virgin Atlantic is totally committed to improving the passenger experience at Heathrow. However, we believe this can be done without a repeat of the incredibly steep price rises we have seen in airport charges in the last few years. Prices at Heathrow are triple the level they were ten years ago. Clearly this is a concern for all passengers travelling through Heathrow, and all airlines operating there.

– Virgin Atlantic Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffith

US aviation chief appointed as new Virgin Atlantic CEO

Craig Kreeger, 53, new Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic Airways Credit: Virgin Atlantic Airways /PA Wire

Today Virgin Atlantic Airways said that Craig Kreeger, 53, who has had a 27-year career at American Airlines, would take over as chief executive when Steve Ridgway retires in spring this year. Mr Ridgway has had 23 years at Virgin and became chief executive in 2001.

Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic Airways Credit: Robin Britton/ITV Meridian

Sir Richard Branson is President of Virgin. He said - "We are thrilled to welcome Craig to Virgin Atlantic. He is the right person to succeed Steve Ridgway at this dynamic and challenging time for our airline.

"We believe Craig has the experience and passion to drive Virgin Atlantic forward and capitalise on the opportunities created by our new venture with Delta Airlines."

Airlines announce new routes

The first domestic services to be run by Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic are among a number of new routes being flown by UK and overseas carriers from Britain in 2013.

Among the routes announced is travel from Manston Airport in Kent with KLM/Air France.

Virgin Atlantic Credit: PA Images

Virgin will be operating a total of 24 domestic flights a day out of Heathrow starting from the beginning of April. The airline will be flying six daily returns to Edinburgh as well as three daily returns to Aberdeen and to Manchester.

Also, from April, a third daily flight between Heathrow and Atlanta, USA, will be operated by American carrier Delta - the airline waiting for regulatory clearance to take a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

British Airways Credit: PA Images

From the end of March, British Airways will begin flying from Gatwick to Colombo in Sri Lanka and will also start Gatwick services to the Canary Islands' destinations of Lanzarote and Tenerife.

BA will also begin flights between Heathrow and Alicante in Spain and Palma in Majorca in Spring 2013.

From April 2, KLM/Air France will start twice-daily services between Manston airport in Kent and Amsterdam's Schipol airport.

The announcement, made in November 2012, was greeted enthusiastically by the area's two Conservative MPs Sir Roger Gale (Thanet North) and Laura Sandys (Thanet South).

"This move really does connect Kent with the rest of the world," said Sir Roger, while Ms Sandys described the new route as making the area "a more attractive place to invest".

Air travellers heading for the Far East from Cardiff will be able to get to Fukuoka when KLM starts flights to the Japanese city, via Amsterdam, in the Spring.

The three-times-a-week service will be the third KLM operates to Japan from Cardiff after Tokyo and Osaka.

Among new easyJet routes in 2013 is Manchester to Moscow, with the low-fare carrier starting four-flights-a-week services on March 28.

The airline, which is also starting Gatwick-Moscow services in 2013, hopes to carry around 60,000 passengers in the first year of Manchester-Moscow flights.

EasyJet is also starting, from June 20, thrice-weekly services between Southend in Essex and Newquay in Cornwall.

Just a few days later, on July 4, easyJet starts three-times-a-week flights between Liverpool and Newquay.

Then, on July 5, easyJet commences a twice-weekly service between Liverpool and the French city of Nantes.


Virgin and Delta 'customers will benefit'

Sir Richard Branson and one of his crews Credit: Meridian

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways have reached an agreement for a new joint venture that will create an expanded trans-Atlantic network. The companies say it will enhance competition between the UK and North America, offering greater benefits for customers.

Delta will invest $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49 per cent stake currently held by Singapore Airlines. Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson will retain the majority 51 per cent stake and Virgin Atlantic Airways will retain its brand and operating certificate.

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