Virgin Atlantic inaugurated its nonstop service between London and Seattle today with the glitz that’s typically associated with the airline’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson.
Flight 105 is due to land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport a little after 3 p.m. today, almost 10 hours following its takeoff from London’s Heathrow Airport.
Among the passengers on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jet is British singer-songwriter Raye, and it’s clear from Twitter that she was part of the in-flight entertainment:
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) March 27, 2017
RAYE celebrates the launch of our new service between London and Seattle with a live performance at 36,000 feet. #HelloSeattle ? ?
Posted by Virgin Atlantic on Monday, March 27, 2017
— Doug Armstrong (@DougArmstrong) March 27, 2017
Branson himself will be in on the festivities in Seattle, headlining a forum on Tuesday for the region’s business leaders and entrepreneurs at Axis Pioneer Square. In emailed comments, Branson told GeekWire that he’s looking forward to the “Business Is an Adventure” session:
“Seattle is a dynamic city, especially when it comes to business, and so we set up our event to celebrate approaches to disrupt the status quo. We need more entrepreneurs to be brave and embrace global opportunities and approach business differently, purposefully.
“Virgin Atlantic and I relate to visionaries, rule breakers, people who aren’t afraid to fly in the face of naysayers. People like Nadia Shouraboura, a retail revolutionary changing the game with innovation, Jonathan Sposato, a serial entrepreneur who has turned his focus to empowering female entrepreneurs, and Chase Jarvis, who has taken his passion for creativity and turned it into the world’s largest live-streaming education company.
“They are just some of the people with inspiring stories to share on Tuesday. See you then!”
GeekWire will be passing along live video coverage of the panel discussion, which starts at 11 a.m. PT. Questions can be submitted via Twitter to @VirginAtlantic using the hashtag #HelloSeattle, or posted as comments on Virgin Atlantic’s website. (Full disclaimer: Sposato, who’s on the panel with Branson, Shouraboura and Jarvis, is GeekWire’s chairman. KING5’s Mimi Jung is the moderator.)
Branson and Virgin Atlantic are dishing up his week’s hoopla to call attention to the airline’s newly inaugurated nonstop London-Seattle service. Virgin Atlantic is flying the flag for Flight 105 as the result of a swap with Delta Air Lines, its joint venture partner.
Just last week, Branson had Seattle on his mind for another reason: Seattle-based Alaska Airlines announced that it would be retiring the brand of Virgin America, the airline it acquired last year.
Branson’s Virgin Group held a minority voting stake in Virgin America, due to U.S. regulatory requirements, and thus had no say in the acquisition or the brand retirement. Nevertheless, Branson wrote a “Dear Virgin America” farewell letter that wedged in a plug for Virgin Atlantic’s Seattle service.
What will Branson say about Virgin America’s passing while he’s in Seattle? And what will Virgin Atlantic do for an encore during the return flight from Seattle to London? Stay tuned for the next episode of “The Rebel Billionaire.”