Virgin Atlantic today welcomed the MCC announcement that it will be transporting the Ashes Urn to Australia so that it can be exhibited during the next Test series between England and Australia in 2006-2007. The tiny, delicate and irreplaceable urn has been displayed in Australia on only one previous occasion in 1988. Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented:
“Everyone at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue is hugely excited and proud to be given the honour of carrying the most precious urn in cricket to Australia.
“The Ashes urn will be given the full award winning Virgin Atlantic Upper Class service on its way to Sydney including complementary limos to and from the airport, our famous in-flight entertainment and we’ll even ask our beauty therapists to give it a rub down and polish! Virgin Blue will take over when it lands in Sydney and will fly it to all the other Ashes test venues across Australia.
“With interest in the Ashes series at an all time high, I’m particularly pleased that with Virgin’s help millions of cricket-mad Australians (are there any other sort of Aussies?) will be able to see this world famous artefact for the first time!
“I’m also delighted to say that the Ashes will “urn” frequent flyer miles.”
Roger Knight, MCC’s Secretary & Chief Executive, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to re-arrange the urn’s visit to Australia.
“With its expertise in both international and Australian air travel, the Virgin Group is the perfect partner for MCC.
“The two organisations can now start to plan the urn’s eagerly-awaited exhibition in Australia - where it will, I am sure, be seen and enjoyed by countless cricket fans.”
The combined expertise and resources of MCC and Virgin will ensure that the tour is organised to the highest possible standards. For example: the urn will be taken to Australia by Virgin Atlantic; its flights within Australia will be the responsibility of Virgin Blue; and all the exhibition arrangements will be planned and then supervised by MCC’s Curator (Adam Chadwick), Archivist & Historian (Glenys Williams) and experts on MCC’s Arts & Library committee.
Since it was founded in 1984, Virgin Atlantic Airways has become Britain’s second largest carrier serving the world’s major cities. Now based at both London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports, it operates long haul services to twenty six destinations world-wide as far apart as Las Vegas and Shanghai. In December 2004 Virgin Atlantic launched daily services between London and Sydney via Hong Kong. Virgin Atlantic currently has a fleet of 32 aircraft which includes thirteen 747s and nine A340-300s and ten A340-600s.
Virgin Blue is Australia’s high quality, low cost carrier and together with sister airline, Pacific Blue, currently operate a fleet of 51 modern Boeing 737 aircraft flying to 22 destinations across metropolitan and regional Australia. Virgin Blue was named OAG Best Low Cost Airline of the Year 2005, for the second year in a row, in recognition of its high standards within the global aviation industry.