Virgin Atlantic Grows Up

23rd Jun 2005

Virgin Atlantic celebrates its 21st Birthday today with a special flight to commemorate its first ever flight between London and New York back in 1984.  The 747-400 aircraft will have the new limited edition Flying Lady with her curvier figure emblazoned on the fuselage and to mark the occasion the aircraft has been re-named ‘Birthday Girl.’

Commenting on the 21st birthday of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson said;

“It has been an eventful 21 years! When I started the airline we only had one aircraft, one destination and a small number of cabin crew. We have now grown into Britain’s second largest airline with a fleet of 32 aircraft, over 8000 staff worldwide, 24 destinations with additional services to Cuba and The Bahamas this month and flights planned to Dubai and Jamaica in 2006.

“Back in 1984 my vision was to create an airline that was going to be the front runner in innovation, value for money and the highest quality product.  Twenty-one years later I am delighted and proud that Virgin Atlantic has continued to stand for the same values and remains as customer-driven with the same emphasis on quality and value as in 1984.  We also take great pride in delivering a safety record as good as any in aviation and have matched this in all our other transportation businesses.

“There have been very tough times over the years for both Virgin Atlantic and the industry as a whole and it is testament to the airline and its staff that it has managed to survive when so many other airlines have failed.


“Over the last 21 years, we have carried over 40 million passengers, our Upper Class and Premium Economy passengers have consumed four million bottles of champagne and we have served around 90 million meals!”

Looking to the future of the airline, Richard added;

“Looking forward to the next five years, we plan to double in size.  We have 21 more aircraft on order with options for 19 more and a long list of destinations to add to our network.  Looking at what we have achieved in the past 21 years I really believe anything is possible for us in the future. 

“Virgin Atlantic is also expanding in to new markets with the launch of the new Nigerian flag carrier, Virgin Nigeria, in which we are a significant shareholder, which starts operations later this month.”

The special flight, VS45, takes off from London Heathrow to JFK with Virgin Atlantic’s Chairman Sir Richard Branson onboard along with twenty-one 21 year old competition winners and some original cabin crew and media onboard. The competition winners, all of whom had to celebrate their 21st this year to qualify, will be whisked away to spend two nights in the metropolis where it is a must to party and shop till you drop.


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