Barbados should not expect any new investments from Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ billionaire founder, Sir Richard Branston anytime soon. However, Sir Richard has given the assurance that he and his airline will not stop coming here.
“No, I’ve got no plans to build anything more in Barbados or fly any more planes from Barbados as it stands,” the iconic airline president said in an interview with Barbados TODAY last night in London, during the lavish launch of Virgin Atlantic’s new flight crew uniforms.
Sir Richard said, though, that he intends to keep coming here occasionally and enjoying “a drink of two” with a few Bajans.
The airline recently announced the restructuring of its Latin American and Caribbean operations, resulting in the retrenchment of several employees. This followed Virgin’s financial partnership with the US airline, Delta.
However, Virgin Atlantic has given the assurance that the Barbados office will remain open, as this country continues to be the regional headquarters.
“I love Barbados. I love the Barbadian accent. I wish I could replicate it. Our airline, Virgin Atlantic has flown to Barbados for many, many years. We’ve always had happy memories in our visits to Barbados. I live very close by, I live in the Virgin Islands, so we are neighbours,” Sir Richard boasted.
He is of the view, that people who live in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean are fortunate and blessed.
“There is nowhere on earth more beautiful than the Caribbean and we’ve got to do everything we can to protect it and treasure it and enjoy it and have a lot of fun there too,” the global corporate leader advised.
While Sir Richard was assuring Barbadians that Virgin Atlantic’s relationship with Barbados was solid, his chief executive officer, Craig Kreeger was telling this newspaper, the company’s future was “incredibly” bright.
“We sit here in one of the world’s most important aviation centres [the UK] with a great position, a brand that our people love and the customers love. We got great new airplanes coming that I think are going to be wonderful from a passenger and customer perspective, wonderful from an employee perspective and good from an economic perspective,” Kreeger added.
The CEO also saw the new partnership with Delta as a great development for Virgin. [On the US side] it offers more connecting itineraries to our customers and with those kinds of things, we have a great future,” he predicted.
However, he did not foresee any definite plans to increase its business in the Caribbean.
“We don’t have any definitive plans to expand in the Caribbean, but it is a very important part of our regional network. Brits love warm weather, and as long as they continue to love warm weather, we are going to continue to try fly him there,” the top airline executive promised.
He revealed that the first 787 airplanes will arrive in September and enter into service in October.
“We have 17 787 Dash 900 aircraft on order, which will take us over the next four years. They are replacing our existing aircraft, so it’s not growth. They are replacement for our less fuel efficient aircraft. So we will be better from an environmental perspective and better from a cost perspective.”
He, too, said the company was “very” happy with it service to Barbados and had no plans to change that at this time.
“It”s been an important destination for us, actually for quite some time and it continues to be,” Kreeger insisted.