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Virgin leads!

Old 2nd May 2003, 19:14
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Virgin leads!

From the Beeb R4 midday news - Virgin has landed 60 tonnes of emergency aid at Basra airport today. Prepared to offer more payload if the agencies make it available.
Good on you, Sir Richard. OF COURSE (for the cynics) it has a jolly good publicity value but it has an even higher humanitarian value in a situation badly in need of the same.
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Old 2nd May 2003, 19:34
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Full BBC article here
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Old 2nd May 2003, 20:21
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BASRA

This appears the all clear has been given?
Maybe we see a big influx in charters from now........

Where did the B747 depart from? was it a -400 or a Icelandic -200?
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Old 2nd May 2003, 20:42
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Cool

At the risk of drifting slightly off-topic... I was told by a Virgin Training Captain that the "Icelandic" -200s are in fact Virgin's own Classics, but they're using Air Atlanta's AOC under some Byzantine lease deal because Virgin no longer have the 747-200 on their own AOC. As far as I remember the Classics are being flown by British crews.
Sorry for the deviation from the subject at hand.
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Old 2nd May 2003, 20:54
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Icelandic Classics

Not off topic...
Yes- thats exactly what I was referring to sir!, the ones still owned by VS but on Icelandic reg & AOC!!
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Old 2nd May 2003, 21:20
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Its a -400 thats in the picture behind RB on the BBC website.

Also from the bbc;

"The flight was piloted by an Iraqi-born captain who had not seen his homeland since he fled in the back of a truck in 1981.

Marhab "Mike" Abunayla said it had been an emotional journey for him as he piloted the plane into Iraqi airspace and saw the trenches of burning oil, still visible from the sky. "
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Old 2nd May 2003, 21:43
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From the VS website:

VIRGIN ATLANTIC OPERATES FIRST AID FLIGHT TO BASRA TO HELP WITH RELIEF AND LONG TERM RECONSTRUCTION - 02 MAY 2003

Virgin Atlantic today operated the first relief supply flight to Basra bringing approximately 60 tonnes of much-needed medical supplies to Iraq. Virgin’s 747 – 400 became the first non-military aircraft to land in Iraq since 1990. Working along side the British Military, Virgin Atlantic has been assisting in the re-opening of Basra airport, which will be crucial to the long-term recovery of Iraq.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented;

“I was contacted two weeks ago by Air Marshal Brian Burridge and asked if we could send a team to Basra to help get the airport reopened and agreed. Since then we have worked with the army and the Royal Air Force to accomplish this as soon as possible and Virgin Atlantic is extremely proud to be the first airline operating a medical relief flight into Iraq. This crucial flight will deliver around 60 tonnes of much needed aid and supplies.

“Good aviation links will be essential for the transportation of aid relief, supplies, workers and the military. Ultimately this will lead to the resumption of trade links, the rebuilding of the Iraqi economy and government and, above all, in helping to reunite Iraqi people with friends and families across the world.”

Virgin has been liaising with the Government and key aid agencies to determine what sort of aid is a priority and how many flights they will require. Virgin has said that its aircraft will be available to operate a number of flights and is obviously delighted that this first flight will deliver life-saving medicines and equipment. In addition Virgin is also flying in essential medical equipment as diverse as incubators, heart defibrillators and ECG machines. Virgin has had fantastic cooperation from a wide range of pharmaceutical and medical supply companies and lists are attached of those who have generously donated supplies and the aid to be flown in on the flight.

Sir Richard Branson commented,

“The pharmaceutical companies and a variety of medical aid organisations, from the moment we asked them to help, have been working around the clock and have supplied over £2 million of drugs and much needed hospital equipment free of charge. We are extremely grateful to them for their incredible generosity.”

The airline will also be carrying a small team of medical experts to assess the situation on the ground as Virgin now has a list of over 700 volunteer doctors, nurses and surgeons who are all prepared to go if needed.

Virgin Atlantic has previously flown to Iraq. In 1990 the airline operated a number of aid flights and the only hostage release flight from Baghdad during the first Gulf conflict. As soon as it is feasible Virgin Atlantic is ready to reintroduce scheduled air services between Iraq and the UK, which have been suspended since 1990.

For further information on Virgin’s humanitarian flights and to volunteer support to the leading aid agencies’ campaigns log onto www.virgin.com
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Old 3rd May 2003, 08:35
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Not being cynical, but

Interesting how the flight had an Iraqi captain - slight coincidence?

Still good on 'em.
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Old 3rd May 2003, 09:24
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Looks like the 'Scarlet Lady' was painted out with Union Jack paint.
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Old 3rd May 2003, 15:00
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Good old Mr Branson, any bandwagon goes past and he's on it.
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Old 3rd May 2003, 16:23
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Don.t knock the Branson.

The bandwagons are usually his with others jumping on board later!
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Old 3rd May 2003, 19:27
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Thumbs up

Well done Sir Richard, and the Virgin crew. Let's hope that other airlines follow his example.

Airclues
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Old 3rd May 2003, 19:47
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Wonder which celeb was onboard this time giving the crew a hard time???

Where did the Crew end up staying? Surely they didn't fly back to the UK in one day!!!
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Old 3rd May 2003, 19:53
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Anti Skid On
Could, indeed, be coincidental but irrelevant. Mike Abunayla has been a -400 captain for some time ... and a good bloke all round.
Again, well done!
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Old 3rd May 2003, 23:43
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One can only imagine the emotions going through the Captain when he arrived back in Baghdad having left 20 odd years ago on the back of a truck. He has surely been afforded a wonderful opportunity to 'close the circle', and what better way to do that than to be a part of the rebuilding of his country of birth.

Best wished to you and your family Mike.

Congratulations and well done to the entire VS team for getting the plane and the consignment out there so quickly and safely.
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Old 4th May 2003, 00:12
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LGWAlan- as far as I'm aware Emirates have operated relief flights from time to time into Iraq since 1990. And they are definately non military, so no, VS not the first commercial operaters since the first Gulf war. Also several freight outfits have been in so I understand.

Bl00dy good though to see Mr Branson pip BA to this particular post. Well done.
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Old 4th May 2003, 01:47
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Crewmeal,

The crew operated from LHR direct to Basra with a short stop in Kuwait. They returned to Kuwait a few hours later where a fresh crew operated back to LHR having positioned out the previous day.

A high ranking military type in KWI estimated that the aid would have a positive effect on upwards of 250,000 Iraqi's.
 
Old 4th May 2003, 02:53
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Angel

I would wonder what Lords Marshall or King would have to say had they been running the BA show. Last time Sir Richard flew a trip like this was to bring back hostages with the help of Edward Heath and the backing of the Government to the anger of the BA cronies.

Even if there is wide spread publicity to this event, it will be to encourage others to jump on and join in, just as the previous aid missions. BA never quite got the idea then, but I'm sure they will be in full support of what could be described as an inspriational trip, with the priority fully on giving aid where the two most powerful nations on earth have failed to deliver.

Well done Virgin, again.
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Old 4th May 2003, 03:48
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White Knight Why on earth should BA go into Basra with aid????

As for your comments we all know you are a bitter and twisted 'so called ex BA training Captain' but of course only City Express. or Flyer or whatever they were called. Emirates are welcome to you.
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Old 4th May 2003, 23:48
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Pikey - if you knew me then you'd know that I'm very far from "bitter or twisted". I am known for my views as to what I think of BA mismanagement. If you think I'm the only one then talk to all the Brymon and BRAL guys and see if I'm in a minority.
How can anyone have any respect for a company that F** cks it up so much and so often !! What are we on to now ? FSAS 15 or something stupid...and still not getting anywhere.
Really, you must try and wake up to reality sunshine.
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