The idea for the airline stemmed from the creator of the Virgin brand, Richard Branson. In 1977, seventeen- year-old Branson started an advisory service that flourished into Virgin mail order record company within three years. After establishing Virgin Records as one of the world’s top six record companies by the early 1980s, Branson launched his new creation, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, by 1984. over time Virgin Atlantic has become “the second largest long- haul international airline operating services out of London (the first being British Airways); Virgin Atlantic is also the third largest European carrier over the North Atlantic. Spanning anywhere from the U.S. and Caribbean to the Far East, India and Africa, the airline maintains hubs in twenty-two destinations worldwide. Headquarters of the company in the UK in Crawley, near London Gatwick Airport.
In addition to the Airline, the interests of virgin Group have expanded to include international “Megastore” music retailing, book and software publishing, film and video editing facilities, clubs, trains, and financial advice companies, through over one hundred companies in fifteen countries. Virgin Atlantic also has a partnership with Micromuse Inc., a provider of fault management and service assurance software. The software that the airline uses is Abilitec, a tool that crash-proofs Virgin Atlantic’s Operational Support System (OSS).
In 1992 Richard sold Virgin Music to Thorn EMI and invested the proceeds into Virgin Atlantic, improving on an already great service. In the same year they launched the first super economy service that went on to become their award winning Premium Economy. In 1999 Richard sold a 49% stake in the company to Singapore Airlines. In 2001 they were voted OAG Airline of the Year. In 2002 they were the launch customer for the Airbus A340-600. In 2003 the launch of the Upper Class Suite gave Upper Class passengers the longest flat bed flying and a great nights sleep. In 2004 they unveiled the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, in which Steve Fossett will attempt the first non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world.
Virgin Atlantic Airlines has more than 26 Boeing 747s and Airbuses and in their fleet offer regular services to 25 destinations worldwide.. The airline carries more than 38,571,267 passengers to the latest recording of the airline in 2003. They have two types of customer Upper Class passengers and Passengers in Economy class and this class also is divided into two Premium Economy and Economic class. The customers from the Upper Class passengers are predominately traveling on business and are male, 35 to 45 years old. Economy passengers are a much broader group, traveling mainly for leisure and evenly spread across most socio economic groups and age ranges.
As an independent airline, Virgin Atlantic successfully competes on all of its routes with most of the industry’s major national carriers. These include British Airways, British midland, American Airlines, Continental, and Delta etc ….
The mission statement for the company, although vague, sums up its intentions well: “To grow a profitable airline, which people love to fly and where people love to work.”