Aviation

Branson celebrates Virgin’s Japan win with giant sushi train on baggage carousel

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Sir Richard Branson has welcomed Virgin Australia’s entry into Japan by turning a baggage carousel into a giant sushi train.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Australia’s first ever giant sushi train on a baggage carousel was created yesterday at Brisbane Airport with the help of the Virgin Group founder in celebration of Virgin Australia’s entry into Japan.

Image by Jen Dainer/Virgin Australia

This latest celebration caps off a busy week for Branson, after announcing the arrival of packaged tickets with Virgin Australia to board Virgin Voyages’ maiden ship, the adults-only Scarlet Lady.

Branson made a typically grand entrance to Brisbane Airport on Thursday, arriving alongside traditional Japanese drummers, with a pair of giant chopsticks in each hand, ready to dine at the giant sushi train.

Virgin Australia created the buzz at Brisbane Airport to celebrate its new daily service between Brisbane and Haneda International Airport, after being awarded one of two sought after slots between Australia and Japan by the International Air Services Commission (IASC) in October.

Flights between the two cities will commence 29 March 2020.

“Tokyo is a wonderful destination and it’s about time travellers between these two cities got to experience the fantastic Virgin Australia awarding-winning service,” Branson said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to visit Japan many times and I know Virgin Australia is going to be welcomed there with open arms. Aussie travellers are also in for a real treat, although I don’t think giant sushi has made it onto the onboard menu just yet!”

Virgin Australia Group managing director and CEO Paul Scurrah described the announcement as a “milestone” for the airline and Queensland, “as we become the first airline to connect Brisbane to the closest and most convenient airport in Tokyo”.

“Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff (centre left) with Virgin Australia Group CEO Paul Scurrah (centre) and Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones (centre right)” by Jen Dainer/Virgin Australia

Queensland’s Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Kate Jones, described the new service as “a win for our tourism industry” and “a win for Japanese travellers”.

“Almost half of all Japanese travellers to Australia come to Queensland,” Jones said. “This service will bring 100,000 extra seats to Queensland every year.

“These flights are worth $250 million over the next three years.”

Branson vows Virgin will challenge Qantas on ultra-long-haul flights

Speaking to the press while in Brisbane, Branson said Virgin will challenge Qantas on ultra-long-haul flights.

Qantas is set to take off today in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the second stage of Project Sunrise, this time flying from London to Sydney as the airline continues to research the effects of ultra-long-haul flights on passengers and crew.

If approved, the flying kangaroo aims to make direct routes between London and New York to Sydney commercially viable by 2023.

Branson told The Australian he “took his hat off” to Qantas for tackling the marathon route, adding “he would be having words” with Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah.

“They need competition,” Branson said.

“Maybe Virgin Atlantic might compete with them, maybe Virgin Australia will or maybe together. We will give them a run for their money.”

Featured image: “Richard Branson celebrates the entry of Virgin Australia into Japan” by Jen Dainer/Virgin Australia

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