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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."
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."
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