Thrilled to be in Texas to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s first flight to our newest destination - Austin.
Austin is a city after my own heart – they say everything is bigger in Texas and I’ve found that to be true with the entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation that has emerged from this great city.
It was wonderful to be on the tarmac along with the team in our cowboy hats to welcome the plane to Austin.
We’re so excited to fly customers to explore this fabulously quirky city - there is nowhere else quite like it. It has everything from music to food to culture to hiking and biking. I went for a lovely walk along the river and it was a beautiful city to explore. It has a small town feel but a booming energy.
Austin’s commitment to ‘keeping Austin weird’ strikes a chord with me as I’ve always thought it’s great to be different – after all, wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?
After chatting to media, we popped downtown to take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s new mural – designed by brilliant Austin artist Mike Johnston, it’s just beautiful. I sprayed on the final touches and then we revealed it to the world.
Austin is our first new route to the US since 2017 and it’s heartening to see Virgin Atlantic back on the path to growth as demand surges across the travel industry. We wouldn’t be able to do it without our brilliant partners at Delta - I’ve always said that good partnerships are so important. It's brilliant that due to customer demand for the route we announced we’ll be flying daily from spring 2023.
We launched Virgin Atlantic in 1984 with the mission of creating an airline that was an amazing experience to fly on. We’re always looking to do things differently and innovate to improve the experience - we were the first airline to introduce seatback TVs in all classes and the first airline to introduce a Premium cabin.
As we recover from the pandemic, we’re encouraging our teams to think like it’s 1984 again. We’re smaller, we’re more agile and now has never been a better time to focus on the Virgin spirit.
We’re also delighted to bring more competition to the Austin – Heathrow route and we believe we’ll offer the best experience in the sky. With fully flat beds in Upper, an onboard bar and all food and drink included, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’m also going to let you in on a little secret... We’ve launched Virgin’s reward programme, Virgin Red, and just by doing your everyday spending you can rack up Virgin Points to put towards flights (Austin included!) so you can experience it for yourself.
The morning after the plane landed, Virgin Atlantic hosted an event (very aptly named Business is an Adventure) at the Capital Factory to celebrate the entrepreneurial energy in the city. It was great to meet so many fascinating entrepreneurs and to sit down with Yvonne Nava to talk about how taking risks and having adventures have shaped the Virgin brand. I always feel most alive when I’m looking at new ideas and pushing limits, whether that’s a fitness challenge, going to space or investing in innovative companies trying to change the world.
We also talked about how business could change in the next 10 years. Entrepreneurs and business leaders have a wonderful opportunity to use our businesses as a force for good in the world, which ultimately is also good for business. We discussed how we need to take care of our planet and how every business has a role to play – even in tricky industries like aviation.
Virgin Atlantic has been investing into transforming its fleet over the last decade and it now operates the youngest, cleanest fleet in the sky (delivering a 20% reduction in fleet carbon emissions). We know it’s a long road ahead to net-zero for the aviation industry, but Virgin Atlantic has ambitious carbon targets and a strong commitment to get to net-zero by 2050 (hopefully sooner).
When I’m presented with a huge challenge, I always try and look for the opportunity – and I believe we have a real opportunity here to transform our industries for good and to use business as a force for good. Thanks Yvonne for a really interesting chat.
One of the audience asked about what makes our brand special and I said it’s all thanks to our people.
It's been fantastic to be with the Virgin Atlantic crew to celebrate its new route to Austin – head over to Virgin Atlantic to find out more and book your next adventure.