Long-haul carrier Virgin Atlantic has been appointed as the official airline of the England football team ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
In what will be seen by many as a snub to the troubled British Airways, the airline – founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson – will provide the team with its own plane ahead of the tournament.
A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600 will fly direct from London Heathrow to Johannesburg on June 2nd carrying the England manager Fabio Capello, his 23 man squad and the key support team.
Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, said: “It is a great honour for Virgin Atlantic to be carrying the England team to Johannesburg.
“We are thrilled they have chosen to fly with Virgin Atlantic on our award-winning Upper Class Suite and promise they will be looked after in style by our world-class cabin crew, so that when they arrive in Johannesburg they are fit and ready to take on the world. I, along with everyone at Virgin Atlantic, am sure they will make England proud!”
The England team will fly in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite, offering the longest fully flat bed in Business Class and state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system.
The menu will also be tailored specifically to the players’ requirements.
FA chief executive, Ian Watmore, added: “I am delighted that we are able to launch England’s campaign in South Africa in such a high quality manner and we are very pleased to be in the capable hands of Sir Richard and Virgin Atlantic.
“It is a winning combination and I hope that bodes well for the tournament.”
The FA has committed to offsetting the carbon emissions generated from its travel to and from the tournament and is currently working in partnership with the Department of Energy and Climate Change to identify suitable projects to support.
Details of this arrangement will be announced by The FA before the World Cup.