srilankan_340
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Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Fri May 02, 2003 10:20 pm

According to Airwise, Virgin had one of their 747's flying to Basra today, making it the first Non military Aircraft to fly into the city since 1990.

Another publicity stunt achieved. I was surprised he did not go on the plane himself.

You have to admire the man.

One of the UK airline's Boeing 747 planes carried in 60 tonnes of medical supplies, together with a volunteer medical team, to the southern Iraq city of Basra. Virgin has been assisting the British military to re-open the city's airport.

Sir Richard Branson, the airline's chairman said: "I was contacted two weeks ago by Air Marshal Brian Burridge and asked if we could send a team to Basra to help get the airport reopened and I agreed. Since then we have worked with the army and the Royal Air Force to accomplish this.

"Good aviation links will be essential for the transportation of aid relief, supplies, workers and the military. Ultimately this will lead to the resumption of trade links, the rebuilding of the Iraqi economy and government and, above all, in helping to reunite Iraqi people with friends and families across the world."

The airline has been liaising with the Government and key aid agencies to determine what sort of aid is a priority and how many flights they will require.

Virgin also says that, as soon as it is feasible, it is ready to reintroduce scheduled air services between Iraq and the UK, which have been suspended since 1990.

British Airways has also asked government permission to re-start commercial services to Iraq.


Anyone knows what the Reg No etc was?

Srilankan_340
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carduelis
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 12:13 am

Yes, yet another publicity stunt, and he was on board with a number of media.

There is also a video attached

http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-12304042,00.html

However, British Airways are more likely to start regular scheduled services:-

http://www.britishairways.com/press/?source=RHG_press_en

News item from nearly two weeks ago! You have to click on 'News Releases'



[Edited 2003-05-02 17:19:38]
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hkg82
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 12:33 am

Richard Branson is always in the news!

Perhaps he also thinks this will favor Virgin’s chances of gaining the rights to fly to Iraq. Have any other UK carriers, besides BA & Virgin, expressed interest in starting flights to Iraq?

Hkg82.
 
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STT757
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 12:41 am

Personally I think this was a nice gesture on the part of Branson, even if it part (small part) of the reason was to gain support for air service to Iraq.

Why can't BA and VS both serve Iraq, either grant them both access or perhaps split the frequencies.

3-4 weekly frequencies for BA and 3 to VS.

Also when commercial air service is restored to Iraq from Britain which airport will the flights operate out of, Heathrow or Gatwick?
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kaitak
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 12:48 am

Apparently the VS pilot is an Iraqi immigrant!
 
danialanwar
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 12:51 am

"Richard Branson is always in the news!"
That's part of VS's advertising campaign ... its cheaper than traditional advertising and creates brand awareness more easily. Just imagine how many times Virgin is mentioned because of this is papers / news / ect around the globe - for free (well except the costs of the flights and Richard's opportunity costs)
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airchabum
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:07 am

The a/c was G-VHOT and is due back at LHR today.

From Sky News talking about Richard Branson: "He was speaking on the runway at Basra, where his air stewardesses were mobbed by waiting British soldiers." I bet they were!!  Love
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
David_itl
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:14 am


I'm sure the total weekly number of service BA offered prior to 1990 was 3, so it would be pointless splitting the route. It would probably be a LHR route.

David
 
hkg82
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:16 am

"Why can't BA and VS both serve Iraq, either grant them both access or perhaps split the frequencies."

My thoughts exactly. What requirements would the British government take into consideration when deciding which airline or airlines will serve Iraq? Others here have said BA is favored to gain the rights. Why? Is this because BA was formerly a state-owned enterprise? Has the British government traditionally favored BA since privatization?

I fully agree Danialanwar.

Sorry for digressing from the topic!

Hkg82.
 
UN_B732
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:24 am

I want to fly on Virgin! The PR stunt caught me allright.
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bobrayner
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:25 am

Has the British government traditionally favored BA since privatization?
That's a whole new can of worms  Wink/being sarcastic

BA (and precursor airlines) definitely have a long history of flights to Iraq:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2962221.stm

However, Virgin's charitable-act-cum-publicity-stunt will certainly turn a few heads, and I think they could implement a proper service more quickly than BA.

Impossible to be sure; if I were a gambler, I'd put about €10 on BA to be awarded the London-Baghdad route, then Virgin will get even more publicity by saying that BA only got it on the basis of a half-century-old air services agreement, old boys network, the market should be opened up to give better airlines a chance, blah blah blah  Smile

Cunning linguist
 
carduelis
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:30 am

HKG82

Before the Gulf War British Airways had been serving BGW for 60 years, (I even went there when I was BOAC crew in the early 60s) and does in fact have the current rights - see my previous post with link to BA site.

When Branson recovers from his current stunt, I doubt if you'll hear anymore on the subject - except, of course more utter BS and hype. He's only interested in high density, high profit routes - he's been unsuccessfully waffling on about VS flights to Australia for years!

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SInGAPORE_AIR
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 1:40 am

Virgin Atlantic Airways - of which Singapore Airlines Pte Limited owns 49% flew a Boeing 747-400 into Basra, Iraq

“I was contacted two weeks ago by Air Marshal Brian Burridge and asked if we could send a team to Basra to help get the airport reopened and agreed. Since then we have worked with the army and the Royal Air Force to accomplish this as soon as possible and Virgin Atlantic is extremely proud to be the first airline operating a medical relief flight into Iraq. This crucial flight will deliver around 60 tonnes of much needed aid and supplies.

“Good aviation links will be essential for the transportation of aid relief, supplies, workers and the military. Ultimately this will lead to the resumption of trade links, the rebuilding of the Iraqi economy and government and, above all, in helping to reunite Iraqi people with friends and families across the world.”

“The pharmaceutical companies and a variety of medical aid organisations, from the moment we asked them to help, have been working around the clock and have supplied over £2 million of drugs and much needed hospital equipment free of charge. We are extremely grateful to them for their incredible generosity.”

Virgin has been liaising with the Government and key aid agencies to determine what sort of aid is a priority and how many flights they will require. Virgin has said that its aircraft will be available to operate a number of flights and is obviously delighted that this first flight will deliver life-saving medicines and equipment. In addition Virgin is also flying in essential medical equipment as diverse as incubators, heart defibrillators and ECG machines. Virgin has had fantastic cooperation from a wide range of pharmaceutical and medical supply companies and lists are attached of those who have generously donated supplies and the aid to be flown in on the flight.

Virgin Atlantic has previously flown to Iraq. In 1990 the airline operated a number of aid flights and the only hostage release flight from Baghdad during the first Gulf conflict. As soon as it is feasible Virgin Atlantic is ready to reintroduce scheduled air services between Iraq and the UK, which have been suspended since 1990.

More information at the Virgin Atlantic Press Releases website
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
 
airchabum
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 2:12 am

Cardeulis

I have no doubt that VS would eventually like to fly to Baghdad as I'm sure there will be plenty of money down there once the re-development of Iraq begins and the oil starts flowing for export. Note Branson has not expressed any interest in flying to Kosovo, Kabul or anywhere else where there has been a recent war!  Wink/being sarcastic VS will fly to Australia in the not too distant future...it's just not the right time for major expansion into new markets at the moment.

As for your assertion that 'He's only interested in high density, high profit routes', do you suggest that VS concentrates on low density, low profit routes then? I can't see that being very successful! Incidentally the latest services to begin are a once weekly Gatwick-Tobago-Grenada and a twice weekly Gatwick-Port Harcourt.

Cheers
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
dc-10 levo
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 2:54 am

Great news that airlines might start flying into Iraq.

And, if this is a publicity stunt, who cares? It's a good thing to promote his airline.

DC-10
 
carduelis
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 4:48 am

>>>As for your assertion that 'He's only interested in high density, high profit routes', do you suggest that VS concentrates on low density, low profit routes then? I can't see that being very successful!<<<

Have another look at what you've written, and hopefully you'll realise what I'm talking about. Who mentioned concentrating on low density, low profit routes - you did - nobody else!

As for TAB and GND - they are developing holiday areas which were created, built-up, and have been served well, by BA, for many years. As far as I know Port Harcourt makes sense with good potential. Also I believe VS is starting a second LAS service. I'll believe the VS Oz flights when I see them!

Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
 
Guest

RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 5:15 am

A PR stunt? Sure it was. That doesn't make it a bad deal though. I think it's great that Branson did that. If it happens to benefit Virgin, so be it.

Look at what Bush did last night (the whole landing on the carrier bit). That was a PR stunt, but (and I don't even like the guy) it seemed to come off as a success as he gave a big "Thank You" to the US troops. I'm sure that meant a lot to them.
 
aussiestu
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 5:23 am


Like has been said he has done the WAR thing before. He truelly does know how to exploit the media and this is a prime example. I truelly admire this man but if Iraq is truelly going to be served by an international carrier then it is going to be BA! Has RB said anything about reinstating his flights to Toronto and the other US route he pulled out off, sorry just a few to many sherries and i cannot remember the other US port they stopped flying too! Yes i DO like VS but RB does like his publicity.
 
airchabum
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 5:35 am

Carduelis

Ok forgive me if I've misunderstood you but I took your post to mean that Branson has no intention of operating to Baghdad as it is potentially a low profit route? As I stated above I happen to think (and presumeably Branson does too) that it will in fact turn out to be a high profit route especially bearing in mind that there is no national carrier to compete with at the moment.

Yes BA has served TAB/GND well for many years as they have with many other destinations. In fact it's very difficult for a new long haul airline to find anywhere that BA doesen't fly to! So VS will always get accused of cherry-picking  Sad

For info LAS is now served 3 times per week from LGW and we'll agree to disagree about if/when UK to Oz flts start!  Wink/being sarcastic

Cheers
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
b744
Posts: 477
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 5:46 am

True, Sir Richard Branson will gain a lot of positive PR from this gesture. Don't forget also that VS flew in a 747 to Baghdad just a few weeks before the (first) gulf war to pick-up the western hostages. Now that takes balls! Imagine gliding into Baghdad airport through a city bristling with anti-aircraft guns and probably tracking you in all the way. They brought in medical supplies etc in exchange for the hostages.
 
Canadian747
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 6:14 am

Look folks if I would be an Airline CEO I would be more like Sir. Richard Branson you hear him in the news and I admire a CEO like that Cause It would make me feel good flying or working for a company like that rather than a company run by a dull CEO like Robert Milton.
Good Job Richard and Keep up the good work and hope you return to Canada cause I know a few sales stunt that you could pull. And also love your new paint scheme.

Canadian747
 
Thrawn
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 7:07 am

Carduelis

You seem to have a habit of knocking anything that Virgin does or says. Why do you always do this?
What Virgin has put together in the last few weeks can only be a good thing for the people of Iraq.

The flight to Basra was not just a Virgin PR stunt as you make out the Uk government paid for the aid, the fuel companies paid for the fuel and Virgin supplied the aircraft, crew and support. what did BA do to offer help.

BA do have the rights to fly there in a prior agreement but why have they not offered to help in any fashion at this present time are they putting profit before compassion?.

In a time when the industry is suffering huge losses its remarkable than one company is prepared to do something for the benefit of others.
Your beloved BA sit and do nothing and moan that its not fair.

BA and Virgin co-operate daily on a number of different aspects at a professional level and both sets of staff have a mutal respect for each other so why do some people on this website still try to bring up this Ba/Virgin divide that just does not happen amongst the staff.


 
SInGAPORE_AIR
Posts: 11619
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 7:54 am

The airport was very sandy .

I can't see the reg.

The video of it is here

Ahh!

GT?
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
 
carduelis
Posts: 1388
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 7:55 am

Thawn and Airchabum

Thanks for your observations - some true, others created.

As a now retired airline man, having worked all over the world in many different positions including Operations, I, more than most, understand the fraternity of airline people, and will always support that special camaraderie.

I definitely am not anti VS.

I, and a lot of other people, do not like Branson. Amonst many things - when he started VS, he used the BA computerised Departure Control System. Reason for this is that BA had it set up in most areas around the world, so there were no set-up costs for Branson as BA agreed to let VS staff use the excellent existing system. After BA helping VS along the way (in more ways than I care to mention) Branson then accused BA of 'Dirty Tricks' and stealing his passengers. Anybody who knows check-in will tell you that the Passenger Name List is just that. It does not give pax contact details, is only provides info necessary for the check-in process - nothing more. There is no way to steal pax from that list which is only sent to LHRRMBA the day before departure.

Yes, BA did pay an amount of damages to Branson, but it was not for anything in the public domain, it was for something written by the Editor of the inhouse BA News that was inaccurate. Branson later had to pay a considerable amount to BA for a number of untrue statements.

All in all, RB is a PR machine, but to listen to him, it makes you wonder how he got where he is. Don't forget it was an unbiased me who put up the news link to Sky News at the beginning of the thread, as I felt it would be interesting for others on the forum. If you looked at the link and its attached video, did you really understand what the man was saying? He's always like that!

Any VS/BA knocking has always emanted from RB - and on occasions BA have responded. RB seems to relish being an 'ankle biter'!

Having never flown on VS, I can only assume that they are a Great British carrier!

Thanks for taking the time to post your comments.


Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
 
SInGAPORE_AIR
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 7:58 am

The aircraft is... something OT or GT

G-VHOT - as in a hot Basra airport.


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airchabum
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 9:48 am

Singapore Air

Yes it's G-VHOT (see reply 7)....a/c arrived back at LHR as VIR401 at 2147.

Carduelis

Yes I agree with you about the fraternity between airline employees and have said previously on another thread about how I've always found BA staff (especially downroute) to be more than helpful towards me a VS employee. This 'BA hates VS hates BA' thing is a myth largely perpetrated by the press. Branson: well yes you love him or you hate him, but either way you have to admire him for going from nothing to a major intl carrier in a relatively short space of time. And you don't get anywhere in business without treading on a few toes! He is a publicity seeker but he's very good at it.

As for the Basra flt being a publicity stunt, I'm sure there are easier/cheaper ways to do it! Some of the fuel (by no means all) was donated but most of the charges were bourne by VS. I haven't been sat in front of Sky News all day but had I not been a VS employee or read this thread I wouldn't have known anything about it. Having said that it may have been aimed more at the govt than the general public.

I wasn't at VS when the 'dirty tricks' business was going on so can't really comment on that but will happily accept what you say as an industry insider rather than the rubbish spouted in the press!

Thank you too for your response.

Cheers
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
airmale
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 4:26 pm

So the first Middle East route for VS will be Baghdad and nort cosmopolitan places like Beirut, Cairo, Dubai or Bahrain, not even Kuwait, interesting.
.....up there with the best!
 
dc-10 levo
Posts: 3376
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RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 5:56 pm

I can't remember if I saw 'Tinker Belle' or 'Tubular Belle' on the side of the aircraft. It's either G-VHOT or G-VBIG.

DC-10
 
airchabum
Posts: 754
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 8:21 am

RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 03, 2003 11:54 pm

DC-10 Levo

It *IS* G-VHOT!!! Honestly! (see replies #7 and #25) Take my word for it...I work for VS and I helped set up the flight. Didn't want to post anything on here in advance (ie before the official press release) as it was a bit touch and go with overflight clearances etc. and didn't want to tread on anyones toes.

Cheers
Biggidy biggidy bong
 
standby87
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2001 2:33 am

RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 10, 2003 6:33 am

Carduelis,

There was a way to steal pax from a PNL. For Virgin Upper Class pax, who had free limo transfers to the airport, their home or business phone numbers were transmitted as SSR items (I'm not sure which one) from VS Res hosted on SHARES to BA's DCS.

These were the pax who BA staff later called (allegedly) to tell them (allegedly) their VS flights were cancelled and would they like to fly BA at no extra cost?

However they got there, even with 1/C/comment inputs, telephone contacts of VS' top pax were in BA DCS and visible on @P type displays. I saw them myself.

As an aside, I remember a loadsheet failure once because DCS couldn't cope with the 90+ seat rows on one of the early VS 747s that had an all economy config downstairs, that was an interesting day..
 
carduelis
Posts: 1388
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 8:24 pm

RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Sat May 10, 2003 7:34 am

Good to hear from a professional, Standby87

Yes, I agree, but only a very small amount from the PNL

From memory, only Reservations 4 APFAX were transfered to the PNL - normal 3 GENFAX did not get transfered to the Passenger Name List.

After a number of years, I've just borrowed 'Dirty Tricks' where a lot of the 'allegations' come from, but, quite honestly, I still not convinced that the so called dirty tricks were as bad as made out! It's all very well telling a few VS pax that their flight is cancelled, but to accept VS coupons at BA check-in would require that they were first endorsed to British Airways (otherwise they would not be honoured by the carrier on the coupon - IATA regs) so until some airline professional tells me otherwise, I still find the story hard to believe.

Yes, I believe you saw the 'telephone numbers of VS top pax' in DCS, but in all honesty they were not a normal requirement of the VS information to be passed to the BA DCS (that VS was using). If the information was passed to BA DCS it was because VS wanted it to be available for their check-in staff - in my humble opinion, it would have easier for VS not to have passed it through as it is not a necessary item for DCS check-in!

Interesting one on the 90+ row VS 747, which really was a VS fault in that they had not advised BA of their 'different' large configuration. If they had have done, it would have been a relatively easy task to create another seat plan 'map' that could be used in DCS whever that particular configuration was operating.

Although not in Operations at the time, I used to look at the VS DCS loads, just for personal curiosity. Similarly, I remember having a look at the BCAL figures that BA took over when the airline merged with BA. In the extreme I also found out how to access Cunard's QE2, and other ships, bookings for a while, when even Cunard Line used BABS for their bookings!

As a matter of interest I still have a copy of the PNL of the first Concorde departure on 21/1/76 (? date), and perhaps may be able to get a printout of the last one - BA002/25OCT JFKLHR (I think) to complete the history books!

Good to read your posting - great stuff!


Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
 
standby87
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2001 2:33 am

RE: Virgin Flies Into Basra, Iraq

Tue May 13, 2003 5:29 am

Thanks for the memories and the compliments Carduelis.

You're quite right about 4 APFAX and the endorsements. Allegedly BA just took VS coupons without bothering to get endorsements, it was all about stopping the pax flying on Virgin, damn the cost.

I obviously don't know the full story about "Dirty Tricks". Working for BA was like working for a family rather than a company (I'm not sure that feeling still exists) and as a relative youngster I only got to hear tittle-tattle like the story of Mr Marshall's special friend and a young lady in Speedbird House one evening (allegedly).

Wish you all the best for the PNL for BA002/25OCT. End of an era.
In a few years time I have to explain to the children why I flew to New York in 3 hours in 1996, but in 2006 it takes twice as long...!

Cheers

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