Branson enjoys a wild time on maiden flight

DOES Virgin Atlantic’s promise to treat its passengers like rock stars extend to its own staff? It certainly looked that way on the carrier’s inaugural flight to Cancun, where a plane-load of employees and hangers-on managed to drink the onboard bar dry before a beach party that could not be stopped even by hurricane-strength winds and tropical storms.

A fragile Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic chief exec Steve Ridgway dressed up in sombreros and ponchos the following morning to compete in a waterfront Mexican stand-off (though The Capitalist was disappointed to learn that the “tequila shots” downed by the pair during the 7am competition were just water). The head honchos were also seen frolicking with X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and illusionist Derren Brown during the festivities, while Sir Richard wrestled with ITV presenter Keith Lemon on the wing of a Boeing 747 to make the group’s arrival in Mexico. So far, so raucous.

But 61-year-old Sir Richard delayed some of his press engagements for a more civilised reason than tequila burn-out: the Wimbledon men’s final, which Virgin workers watched in the hotel bar alongside the tycoon’s octogenarian mum, Eve.

Madre Branson, incidentally, has written a biography named “Mum’s the Word”, currently being pored over by publishers including Virgin Books.

Her proud son tells The Capitalist it details her life as “a woman who has said yes rather than no to a lot of things”. Which sounds quite rock star in itself.