View Full Version : Virgin Blue saved by shaming shock jock

18th Dec 2003, 00:18
Thurs "The Australian"

Airline saved by shaming shock jock
By Andrew Fraser
December 18, 2003

Sir Richard Branson was all set to sell Virgin Blue two years ago until he copped the same treatment meted out to radio listeners who called shock jock Derryn Hinch - "Shame, Richard, shame!"

Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey told a business breakfast in Brisbane yesterday that Mr Hinch had gained Sir Richard's ear in Darwin in August 2001 when Air New Zealand had a large cheque ready to present Sir Richard as payment for the then fledging airline.

"We were up in Darwin to do an announcement with the chief minister there about extending flights to Darwin, but we'd talked to Air New Zealand and there was this giant cheque for $250 million," said Godfrey.

"But Derryn Hinch of all people was up there at the time, and he said to Richard 'If you do this, you'll be a pariah in this country, no one will talk to you again'. This sort of stuff. So Richard very publicly tore up the cheque."

That was the near-miss Virgin Blue had when it was up and flying - but Mr Godfrey also revealed that the airline very nearly didn't get off the ground.

He said that the company's UK parent was not keen on setting up an airline in the Australian domestic market because they were in partnership with Singapore Airlines which had a large financial interest in Air New Zealand.

"They had this nice business plan and all their stock options sitting there and they didn't want to rock the boat," Mr Godfrey said yesterday.

He said that in the period before Virgin Blue announced it would set up in Australia, Branson himself had been the chief backer of the idea, but just as the company was about to make its intentions public, Sir Richard got cold feet and said the high-profile public launch would have to be cancelled.

"How do you tell the prime minister to blow off, tell everyone in the aviation industry that this big announcement you've got them ready for isn't going to happen?

"So I called him back and just talked non-stop about why we needed to keep going on this, and after a couple of minutes, he said, 'You're right, let's go ahead anyway'."


Skyhawk XP
18th Dec 2003, 08:32
And in doing so Branson reneged on an agreement made with Air New Zealand to sell Virgin Blue to Ansett.

Ty Webb
18th Dec 2003, 12:35
So!!!! Who`s the Richard head now!!!
He owes the sheep shaggers nothing.