James Moore: High-flying bet which won't get off the ground

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The Independent Online

Outlook Ladies and gentlemen with investments in the airline industry, we ask you to fasten your seat belts for another spell of turbulence.

Air traffic control has reported flying debris emanating from Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic and Mr William Walsh and his International Airlines Group.

We have been told that this may last for some time so we ask you to be patient, remain in your seats and refrain from using the toilets.

The in-flight crew will be happy to provide a sick bag should you require – and you probably will if you look at the long-term record of the industry when it comes to providing anything like sustainable earnings.

We understand that Sir Richard has bet Mr Walsh £1m that the Virgin Atlantic brand will be around in five years time. Mr Walsh has responded with the suggestion that the loser accept a kick in the groin because he doesn't have a million to spare. Nor does his company.

The chances of such a bet being paid are about as high as you having a pleasant experience at the UK airport we'll be landing at.

In the meantime, we'd like to reassure you that while the industry is full of big personalities, our pilots are all conservative types who think casual dress means leaving your top button undone, play golf at the weekends and would live in Surbiton if they could afford the prices.

They're also a lot better at flying planes than those guys are at running airlines.