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Virgin Atlantic Celebrates Turning 20

Virgin Atlantic Airways today celebrates its 20th birthday.  The airline will celebrate the occasion with passengers onboard its aircraft and yesterday’s announcement of a launch date of Virgin Atlantic’s new services to Sydney will give an extra excuse to party.

Last week Sir Richard Branson also marked the occasion by successfully setting a new Guinness World Record for completing the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibian vehicle in a Gibbs Aquada. 

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, said:

“I am pleased to be able to wish Virgin Atlantic many happy returns for its twentieth birthday!  When we started our first service in 1984 from Gatwick to Newark, no one predicted that we would still be here in 2004.  Twenty years on we have a fleet of 29 beautiful aircraft flying to 22 destinations worldwide and yesterday we were able to confirm that we’ll launch services to and from Sydney via Hong Kong from this December.

“One of the reasons why we have not only survived, but also thrived, is because of the loyalty and commitment of our staff.  Everyone who has worked for the airline over the past twenty years has made a special contribution and should feel proud that the airline has reached this landmark. 


“I would also like to thank the 40 million passengers who’ve flown with us.  We promised you a fun, high quality airline, offering innovation and value when we launched in 1984 and will continue to pledge this for the next twenty.”

Virgin Atlantic launched its first service on 22 June 1984 with one aircraft and one route, Gatwick to Newark.  Two decades on Virgin Atlantic flies to 22 different destinations worldwide as far apart as San Francisco and Shanghai with a fleet of 29 aircraft.  Virgin also owns leading UK holiday tour operator, Virgin Holidays, and has substantial cargo operations.

Virgin Atlantic was founded in 1984 to provide a high quality, value for money service and to make the experience of flying more fun.  Throughout its history Virgin has always aimed to offer a unique travelling experience and has revolutionised many aspects of air travel for both business and leisure passengers.  It was the first airline to provide all economy passengers with individual television screens and the first to offer business class passengers innovations such as stand-up bars onboard, on board therapists offering massages and beauty treatments, complimentary limousines to and from the airport and Drive Thru Check In facilities. 

Twenty years on Virgin Atlantic continues to innovate with the roll out of its new Upper Class Suite.  The Upper Class Suite consists of a reclining leather seat for take off, a place to sit and eat a proper meal opposite your partner, the longest fully flat bed in the world with a proper mattress for sleeping on, a private onboard bar to drink at with your friends, a private massage room and four limousines per return trip - all at a price thousands of pounds less than other airline’s First Class. 

Following Richard Branson’s successful record attempt last week the airline is also planning to offers it Upper Class passenger an ‘aqua limo’ service to and from Heathrow airport using Gibbs Aquada later this year.