Celebrating Virgin Atlantic’s new route to Tel Aviv

Richard Branson and cabin crew stand in front of a plane holding Union and Israeli flags
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 23 October 2019

Thrilled to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s new route to Tel Aviv. It’s such an exciting time for the airline as we are growing and opening up new routes to more and more wonderful destinations, such as São Paulo and Mumbai.

It’s always so wonderful to fly somewhere new and our crew really do go out of their way to make each journey special. They all turn up with a smile and make every journey memorable.

Richard Branson kisses the ground in front of a plane
Image from Virgin Atlantic

It has been lovely to visit Tel Aviv with CEO Shai Weiss, who was born in Israel and has been showing us around. It’s my third time in this wonderful city and I always enjoy the really tasty food, the warm welcome and hearing all the new ideas from the tech community. There’s a real start-up vibe here and it’s a great place to be doing business.

It was also great to hear Shai talk about how our growth must be responsible and driven by a mission to reduce carbon emissions across the industry. Virgin Atlantic has been working hard in the background for years to try and reduce its emissions. From 2007-2018 we reduced total aircraft CO2 by 21 per cent - but we want to go further, and quickly. By 2024 Virgin Atlantic will have one of the youngest and cleanest fleets in the sky, evidence of how seriously we take this challenge.

Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss and Virgin Atlantic cabin crew celebrating the inaugural flight to Tel Aviv
Image from Virgin Atlantic

To celebrate all the things the city has to offer, Virgin Atlantic hosted a Business is an Adventure event, bringing together entrepreneurs and businesses to talk about how to build a brand. 

I’ve always wanted Virgin to feel like a family, and Shai really took this to heart with his mum, wife, kids, brother and sister joining him at the event. His sister Dana, who is a news presenter, moderated the panel and got me recounting all of the times Virgin has used a blimp to get a message across – from calling NBC cameramen the best looking at the Super Bowl, to BA’s troubles with the London Eye. We were always the challenger brand trying to disrupt and do things differently, and we quickly realised that if we wanted to stand out then it helped to make people smile.

Richard Branson smiling with a model aeroplane in the foreground
Image from Virgin Atlantic

Another great example of this is our salt and pepper shakers onboard Virgin Atlantic. People love them so much they have a tendency to go missing – so we decided to mark the bottoms of them with the words “pinched from Virgin Atlantic”. It’s something that gets people talking about Virgin Atlantic and has been a really effective and fun form of marketing.

We took some questions at the end of the discussion and one man in the audience caught my eye because I thought he looked a little familiar (see any resemblance to yours truly?) He asked me for an update on Virgin Galactic and I invited him up on stage for a chat. I thought our likeness was uncanny (though perhaps he’s a bit better looking!) It turned out he was one of our Future Astronauts and I joked that perhaps we could send him up to space on our first trip in my place.

Richard Branson with a future astronaut at Pitch to Rich in Tel Aviv
Image from Virgin Atlantic

I got the chance to hear some of the best business ideas in Tel Aviv – but I’ll share more on those tomorrow.

It's been so wonderful spending a few days in Tel Aviv – head over to Virgin Atlantic to find out more on our new routes.