Air Transport World

Branson sprouts Brussels wings; avaition's enfant terrible aims to shake up Europe with Virgin Express.(Richard Branson)

Aviation's enfant terrible aims to shake up Europe with Virgin Express

BRUSSELS--After succeeding in the long-haul sector despite the gloomiest of forecasts from the rest of the aviation industry, Richard Branson, ebullient head of the Virgin group of companies, including Virgin Atlantic Airways, is taking the plunge into European short haul.

His new Virgin Express airline (ATW, 6/96) will be based here--significantly, the headquarters of the EU's aviation liberalizers--and will set out to mimic the low-fare, no-frills policies of U.S. operators such as Southwest Airlines. Branson paid a visit to Southwest last year at the invitation of Chairman and CEO Herb Kelleher, and he liked what he saw. …

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