EXCLUSIVE: Sir Richard Branson announces expansion plans

24th Mar 2004

Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Chairman Richard Branson today announced that the airline is to embark on a period of sustained growth which will feature:?the launch of a series of new routes including Australia, Cuba, and The Bahamas

?an increase in services to the US, Caribbean, Asia and the Far East

?orders for two more A340-600 aircraft

?the recruitment of 1400 staff over the next year

Commenting on the news Richard Branson said:

“Following the last recession Virgin Atlantic had annual double digit growth from 1993 - 2000 and we aim to match this level in the next few years. There are encouraging signs that the market - particularly the all-important business travel sector- is returning to health.  London to New York is the touchstone route for business travellers and our performance on this route has been incredibly strong in recent weeks.  Across our network as a whole we’ve seen growth in our premium cabins of over 10% year on year. Some of this growth is being inspired by our new Upper Class Suite - its not only winning awards but winning market share from our rivals as well. 

“Our leisure traffic, especially out of Gatwick to Florida and the Caribbean, has remained very strong fuelled by an excellent performance from Virgin Holidays, the biggest UK tour operator to both regions. Aviation needs a sustained period without the sort of turbulence we’ve experienced in the last three years but we’re looking to the future with real optimism.

“While the North American market will always be crucial to our success we’re continuing our strategy of growing our network around the world and I’m pleased to be able to outline plans today to add new routes such as Sydney, Havana and Nassau over the next year and we’re evaluating some further new destinations.


“I’m also delighted to confirm orders for two more A340-600s which means we will take delivery of six of these aircraft over the next two years. The new aircraft will be instrumental in fulfilling Virgin’s plans for continued growth and will also continue our goal of operating one of the youngest fleets in world aviation.

“Finally, it gives me great pleasure to confirm that this growth will open up opportunities for up to 1400 people to join Virgin Atlantic over the next year. After the difficulties we’ve faced in the last few years it is great to offer so many people so many opportunities in all areas of the business - including pilots, cabin crew, engineers, airports and office-based staff.”


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