- Prime Minister Gordon Brown says vision and pioneering spirit of Virgin Atlantic and Sir Richard Branson has changed the airline business in the last 25 years
SOUTH NORWALK, Conn. , June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin Atlantic Airways, one of the world's leading long-haul airlines, today celebrated its 25th birthday in style by recreating the very first flight to New York that departed on June 22, 1984 . Sir Richard Branson , President of Virgin Atlantic, was joined onboard by frequent travelers, travel trade VIPs and a host of special guests including leading fashion designer Vivienne Westwood , international cricketer Kevin Pietersen and his wife, former Liberty X singer Jessica, as well as Ian Botham and Christopher Biggins , who was a passenger on the very first Virgin Atlantic flight 25 years ago.
As part of the celebrations at Heathrow Airport before the historic departure, Sir Richard Branson was joined on the wing of the Boeing 747-400 Virgin Atlantic aircraft, named 'Birthday Girl', by acclaimed supermodel and icon, Kate Moss who came to personally wish the airline a Happy Birthday.
Speaking at Heathrow Airport, Sir Richard Branson , President of Virgin Atlantic said:
"I am so proud of what we have achieved in the last 25 years. It is a tribute to the staff of Virgin Atlantic that we are in the leading position we are in today. It seems a long time ago that we took that first flight in 1984, and so much has been achieved since then. We would like to thank the millions of travelers that have put their faith in us and the thousands of staff who have created such a great airline."
Steve Ridgway , Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic said:
"Today's milestone is a huge accomplishment for Virgin Atlantic. In the last 25 years, our 8500 staff worldwide have helped us build a fantastic airline against all the odds, whether battling with our competitors or enduring the ups and downs of the aviation industry. Since 1984 Virgin Atlantic has grown up a lot but thanks to the creativity, enthusiasm and hard work of our staff, we are definitely still red hot!"
The airline also received a special birthday message from Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said:
"I'm delighted to congratulate Virgin Atlantic on your 25th anniversary. Britain is rightly proud of having the world's most innovative and competitive airlines. Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson's vision and pioneering spirit have changed the global airline business over the last twenty-five years. People can now afford to fly to places they previously only dreamt of. Aviation underpins our economic well-being. Virgin Atlantic is now also at the forefront of developing new technologies to meet the challenge of climate change. May this pioneering spirit continue throughout your second quarter century."
Today's special birthday flight will be under the command of Captain Geoff Andreasen , Virgin Atlantic's Chief Boeing Pilot, and First Officer Niamh O'Connor . The Flight Service Manager on the flight operated the very first Virgin Atlantic flight in 1984. Chris Morley , who has been with the airline for 25 years, will be leading the team of 18 cabin crew across the Atlantic.
During the birthday flight guests will enjoy a taste of the 1980s, with special themed music and meals designed with an 80s twist. Among the movies onboard will be 'Airplane', which was famously shown on the airline's first ever flight. Entertainers will also be onboard to ensure that everyone is in the party spirit. Once in New York guests will be invited to the exclusive Virgin Atlantic Red Hot Birthday Party in Manhattan .
Over 65 million passengers have chosen to travel with Virgin Atlantic since its launch in 1984. The airline now flies to 30 destinations around the world, from its main bases at London Heathrow and London Gatwick, using a modern, young fleet of Airbus A340 and Boeing 747 aircraft.
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