Virgin seals 1.3bn deal on birthday

VIRGIN ATLANTIC splashed out on its 25th birthday yesterday with a $2.1bn (&pound;1.28bn) deal, saying it would take delivery of 10 new Airbus A330-300 aircraft between now and 2012.<br /><br />The birthday goodies will allow the airline to expand while it waits for the delivery of Boeing&rsquo;s troubled 787 Dreamliner.<br /><br />The planes, each seating up to 270 passengers, will allow the airline to expand its reach to Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver.<br /><br />&ldquo;Despite the worst economic conditions in decades, we are focusing on sustainable growth in the years ahead using the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible,&rdquo; Virgin Atlantic&rsquo;s chief executive Steve Ridgway said<br /><br />In typical lavish Virgin style, the airline also celebrated by recreating the very first flight to New York that departed on 22 June 1984.<br /><br />Supermodel Kate Moss, dressed as a Virgin Atlantic pin-up, was swept up by the airline&rsquo;s boss Richard Branson as she wished it happy birthday.<br /><br />Prime Minister Gordon Brown also sent an anniversary message, saying that &ldquo;Britain is rightly proud of having the world&rsquo;s most innovative and competitive airlines.<br /><br />&ldquo;Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson&rsquo;s vision and pioneering spirit have changed the global airline business over the last 25 years,&rdquo; he added. <br /><br />Meanwhile, transport secretary Lord Adonis waded into the row between Branson and airline British Airways (BA), warning there would be &ldquo;no bailouts&rdquo; given to struggling airlines.<br /><br />The comments come after the bearded mogul urged the government not to rescue its arch-rival in the downturn.<br /><br />Over 65m passengers have travelled with Virgin Atlantic since 1984. <br /><br /><strong>25 YEARS OF VIRGIN ATLANTIC<br />1968<br /></strong>Branson publishes the first issue of Student Magazine - his first business venture.<br /><br /><strong>1984</strong><br />Virgin Atlantic Airways is launched, with one leased Boeing 747-200 flying to Newark Liberty in New York.<br /><br /><strong>1986</strong><br />The airline adds another Boeing 747 and starts a scheduled route fromGatwick to Miami.<br /><br /><strong>1988 &ndash; 1992</strong><br />Flights are launched between Gatwick and New York-JFK, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Boston, and Orlando.<br /><br /><strong>2000</strong><br />Virgin sells 49 per cent of the airline's holding company to Singapore Airlines for &pound;600.25m. Virgin Group still owns 51 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>2000</strong><br />Virgin launches Australian low cost airline, Virgin Blue.<br /><br /><strong>2004</strong><br />Virgin launches its space programme, Virgin Galactic.<br /><br /><strong>2007</strong><br />Virgin launches low cost US airline, Virgin America, which loses nearly $35m in its first three months.<br /><br /><strong>VIRGIN&rsquo;S OTHER BRANDS:</strong><br /><strong>Virgin megastores</strong><br />The first&nbsp; of the international chain of stores opened in 1971. Virgin Megastore was sold and renamed Zavvi, before collapsing in 2008.<br /><br /><strong>VIRGIN VIE</strong><br />Virgin&rsquo;s body care, cosmetics, homeware and jewellery products brand was bought by its senior management for an undisclosed sum in January.<br /><br /><strong>Virgin media</strong><br />Branson&rsquo;s debt-laden pay-tv brand is struggling in the downturn as hard-pressed consumers fail to renew their subscriptions.