Virgin to fly the flag with 2,000 new jobs

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The Independent Online
RICHARD BRANSON'S Virgin Atlantic airline will today unveil a major expansion plan creating 2,000 jobs and adding two new routes to its network, writes Michael Harrison.

The pounds 85m programme will involve an extensive rebranding of the airline, designed to accentuate Virgin's "Britishness".

Its fleet of 24 wide-bodied jets will be repainted to incorporate the Union Flag in a more formal way, highlighting the difference with British Airways, which has opted for multi-coloured tail fins with ethnic designs.

BA, meanwhile, is reported to have reorganised itself into longhaul and shorthaul operations, mirroring the way it was divided into BOAC and BEA in pre-privatisation days.

The two new routes Virgin will fly are to Chicago and Shanghai. It is also launching daytime services between New York and London. Most of the 2,000 new recruits will be pilots, cabin crew and check-in staff. They will take the workforce to 8,500.

The rebranding, which is due to unveiled in the autumn, will be accompanied by onboard improvements, including new seats in Upper Class designed by the racing car manufacturer, Reynard.

Mr Branson says Virgin Atlantic will make pounds 100m profits this year against pounds 89m in the year to April 1998.