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

By David Flynn, September 9 2015

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
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

TravelElephant

TravelElephant

09 Sep 2015

Total posts 21

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

TomGoddardd

TomGoddardd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 286

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 :)

turbojezz

turbojezz

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 127

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

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

Jono

Jono

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 245

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).

Grannular

Grannular

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 288

sigh...

aklrunway

aklrunway

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 333

This is becoming a joke

Frank

Frank

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Sep 2013

Total posts 175

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

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 286

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.

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 918

SYD hasn't been an alternate since 1986.

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

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

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. 

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 150

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.

abudhabi1

abudhabi1

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 279

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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