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Virgin Galactic aircraft soars to record heights

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has made its third rocket-powered supersonic flight in the Mojave Desert, soaring to a record 71,000 feet.

The company says the reusable space vehicle was carried by aeroplane to 46,000 feet yesterday and then released.

Virgin Galactic's rocket SpaceShipTwo Credit: Virgin Galactic

The craft used its rocket motor the rest of the way to reach its highest altitude to date. SpaceShipTwo and its two-member crew then glided to a safe landing in the desert north of Los Angeles.

Virgin Galactic says the 10-minute test flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers into space.

Plane makes emergency landing leaving many stranded

A Virgin Atlantic passenger plane en route to New York had to make an emergency landing at a small Canadian airport leaving British holidaymakers stranded.

A Virgin Atlantic 747 plane lands at Heathrow Airport. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive

More than 250 passengers and crew on board Virgin Atlantic's flight VS25 from Heathrow had to make the unscheduled touch down at Gander Airport in Newfoundland after a technical fault believed to do with refuelling.

The plane will not be used to fly the passengers to John F Kennedy Airport and another aircraft is on its way to transport them, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said.

The area surrounding Gander Airport is small and there were no available hotel rooms for passengers who had no option but to spend the night inside the terminal.

The airline could not confirm what caused the technical fault and engineers are currently performing tests.

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Branson: Foreign Office warnings 'scaremongering'

Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic air stewardesses
Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic air stewardesses Credit: EMPICS Entertainment

The founder of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson has told the Independent that terror warnings issued by the Foreign Office to tourists are "doing more harm than good".

The British entrepreneur said that warning of the risk of a terrorist attack was "exactly what the terrorists wanted" because it reduced tourist numbers.

In a statement the FCO said "We have a responsibility to make sure British nationals have the necessary information and advice so that they can make their own choices. We would rightly be criticised if UK lives were lost and we had not reflected a known terrorist threat in our travel advice."

Branson's Virgin launches first domestic flights today

The start of the new services gives Sir Richard Branson another chance to take on his arch rival BA - this time over UK skies. Credit: PA

Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic starts its first domestic services today.

Known as Little Red, the new service begins with a Manchester to Heathrow flight this morning, kicking off a four-times-a-day service between the two airports.

Next Friday a six-daily Heathrow-Edinburgh service begins, followed by thrice-daily Heathrow-Aberdeen flights from April 9.

Virgin is starting domestic services after take-off and landing slots at Heathrow were made available following the takeover of carrier bmi by British Airways parent company IAG.

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Virgin Media 'to grow faster' after £10bn deal

Virgin Media has transformed the digital experience of millions of customers, catalyzed a deep-rooted change in the UK's digital landscape and delivered impressive growth and returns for our shareholders.

I'm confident that this deal will help us to build on this legacy. Virgin Media and Liberty Global have a shared ambition, focus on operational excellence and commitment to driving shareholder value.

The combined company will be able to grow faster and deliver enhanced returns by capitalizing on the exciting opportunities that the digital revolution presents, both in the UK and across Europe.

– Virgin Media CEO, Neil Berkett

Virgin Media's new owner makes broadband commitment

Liberty Global says the deal with Virgin Media means the company will have a total of 25 million customers in 14 countries.

Chairman of Liberty Media, John Malone
Chairman of Liberty Media, John Malone Credit: Reuters

It is already the largest cable operator in most of its 11 European markets. But the majority of revenue is expected to come from five countries - the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Liberty Global says it plans to continue investing in Virgin's broadband network.

US billionaire snaps up Virgin Media

Virgin Media's new owner, Liberty Global, is controlled by John Malone who has been trying to seal a deal for more than a decade:

  • Virgin Media was created by the merger of cable operators NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile in 2006
  • Malone began buying up stock in Telewest and tried to acquire NTL back in 2000
  • The deal marks his largest European acquisition
  • Liberty Global already ranks as the largest cable operator in Europe with 18.4 million subscribers
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