chairman & ceo, virgin group
September 11 and its Aftermath
Sir Richard Branson, the chairman and CEO of the Virgin Group and often described as flamboyant and brash, but tremendously successful, delighted members of The Chief Executives Club of Boston at a "High Tea" today with the story of how he successfully built the Virgin Group on a series of extraordinarily risky gambles . The Virgin Group includes an array of businesses under the Virgin brand ranging from air travel to megastores.
Branson reported that immediately following the September 11 attacks, his airline lost 30 percent of its business-class passengers, causing the carrier to slash 1200 jobs, ground some jets , close two routes and cut 20 percent of its capacity. But as of the first of January, Virgin Atlantic Airways has seen a resurgence in business on its important Boston-to-London route. "It's really coming back", Branson said, which is good news for Boston's tourism industry, which relies heavily on travelers from Britain - the Hub's biggest international tourism market.
Branson plans to launch Virgin Mobile, a joint venture with Sprint PCS, this spring in Boston and other cities. That wireless phone service will let users receive text messages, book vacations, buy CDs, airline tickets and more.
Not only did Branson convince his audience that he has an insatiable desire to push the boundaries of common business practices but that he doubts no one has had as much fun on the road to becoming a billionaire than he did.
Excerpts of this story ran in the Boston Herald.