Richard Branson: no plans for Virgin Atlantic to return to Sydney

Richard Branson: no plans for Virgin Atlantic to return to Sydney

Virgin Atlantic is unlikely to restart flights to Australia, says the superbrand godfather Sir Richard Branson.

Branson's brash British Airways challenger axed its Sydney-Hong Kong flights in May 2014 and exited the Australian market, citing "increasing costs and a challenging economic environment."

Read: Branson: why I shut down Virgin Atlantic in Australia

But with a growing number of fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9s now replacing the thirsty four-engined Airbus A340s which previously shuttled between Sydney and Hong Kong, might a return to Aussie skies be on the cards?

"I hope one day we'll see Virgin Atlantic planes here again" Branson told Australian Business Traveller during the opening of Virgin Australia's newly-expanded Brisbane lounge, although he indicated this wasn't on the airline's roadmap.

"In fact, one day I hope it will be a Virgin Galactic plane that will be flying down here" the billionaire entrepreneur quipped.

"The aim is to 2-3 hours in the air between London and Brisbane, now that will really wake up British Airways and Qantas!" Branson quipped.

But those commercial spaceflights are still some years away, Branson admitted.

"I would love to see them in my lifetime – definitely it will happen in my children's lifetime."

Last year's fatal crash of an experimental Virgin Galactic passenger spaceship over the US Mojave Desert further set back the already-delayed start of Branson's quest to ferry tourists and eventually business travellers beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Branson expects a new 'SpaceShipTwo' now being built to be "unveilled by the latest in January 2016, and then our brave test pilots will start testing it."

But after so many false starts and missed deadlines, Branson was reluctant to nominate a date for his first foray into space.

"I'm trying not to give a date because I've made a number of mistakes on that already" he told Australian Business Traveller. "When our pilots are finished their testing, we’ll go up."

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

17 comments

  • TravelElephant

    TravelElephant

    9 Sep, 2015 02:53 pm

    That is disappointing. I see his point but new aircrafts=new opportunities.

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  • Tom Goddard

    TomGoddardd

    9 Sep, 2015 03:05 pm

    Virgin Galactic I don't really see lifting off. With the crash of a test flight already, and the amount a ticket is going to cost will be extrodinary.

     

    If it does happen I would have to do it once and find out.

     

    Maybe AusBT can do a review for us :)

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  • turbojezz

    turbojezz

    9 Sep, 2015 07:00 pm

    You know the Wright Brothers crashed a few times yeah??? and countless others....

    Lucky we dont listen to you for inspiration on......anything really.

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  • Dave

    Grannular

    10 Sep, 2015 09:19 am

    Remember the A320 display flight that crashed too? It's now one of the most common commercial aircraft in the skies

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  • Jono

    Jono

    9 Sep, 2015 03:27 pm

    Ah, I think we are forgetting the real questions here which are: How long will it be until…

    People start to only suggest routes that leave or enter into Sydney, (totally forgetting about Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Cairns as possible options,) or…

    Perth people start feeling unloved. (I say that knowing full well that I appear to be the one doing the winging or pointing out thereof, here).

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  • Dave

    Grannular

    9 Sep, 2015 04:05 pm

    sigh...

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  • aklrunway

    aklrunway

    9 Sep, 2015 09:04 pm

    This is becoming a joke

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  • Frank

    Frank

    10 Sep, 2015 11:11 am

    Keep at it Jono, it's got people talking..

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    10 Sep, 2015 11:13 am

    Yes, but it's off-topic: this article is about Virgin Atlantic and flights to Sydney, not Perth residents feeling "unloved". Further off-topic posts will be deleted.

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  • Jono

    Jono

    10 Sep, 2015 11:17 am

    Sorry Chris. Didn't mean to divert.

    Just saw the idea of a new airline potential coming into Australia and thought I'd make reference to two common trends.

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  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    9 Sep, 2015 07:06 pm

    Here is an interesting fact, why is Sydney Airport's main runway so long? It's an alternate landing strip for the space shuttle, so maybe one day we will get Space Ship Two landing in Sydney. Google it if you don't beleive me.

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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    9 Sep, 2015 07:27 pm

    SYD hasn't been an alternate since 1986.

    YPEA, DRW and YAMB were alternates until the end of the shuttle program.

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  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    10 Sep, 2015 08:01 am

    Well an interesting fact about DRW is the Federal Government wanted the lumps taken out of the runway and have it straight until they realised they owned a share of the runway.

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  • Hugo

    Hugo

    10 Sep, 2015 09:25 am

    It was expanded to that length in the 1970s, but I doubt it was just for space shuttle landing purposes. You'd think if the Yanks were willing to pay to expand a runway just to form one of a few dozen alternate landing sites then they'd choose an airbase in the middle of nowhere that didn't require reclaiming land in Botany Bay. It was an alternate landing site for a while (one of many) but chosen because it already happened to have a runway of sufficient length. 

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  • Frank

    Frank

    10 Sep, 2015 11:51 am

    It must also be remembered that Darwin has a military component there as well, and the runway was lenghtened as an alternate to accommodate the largest military aircraft going around.  From memory, there are also similarly long military runways at RAAF Curtin and Truscott in remote WA for the same reasons.

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  • Scott Wilson

    Libertyscott

    9 Sep, 2015 07:17 pm

    It is not impossible to envisage VA flying SYD-HKG to feed VS, but two stop VS? Unless you can get decent yields of premium traffic across the whole route, forget it.

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  • abudhabi1

    abudhabi1

    9 Sep, 2015 10:25 pm

    A VA out of Adelaide to feed into VS why not.With the switch to Nonstops on Cathay Pacific which meant a Crazy O Clock departure through to Hong Kong recently this would mean a much more sensible departure time to Sydney coupled with a reasonable connection.I would rather say a 9am flight on the first sector to link outbound and being at the airport say an hour and a half earlier than the current 6:25am or 7:50am schedules of the opposition and having to get there before the sunrise.

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24 May, 2019 11:22 am

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