Monday, March 1, 1999 Published at 09:19 GMT
Business: The Company File
Virgin to create 2,000 jobs
Revamped planes will be unveiled in September
Virgin Atlantic is set to create 2,000 jobs as it beefs up new airline routes.
The jobs, expected to be announced on Monday, will be for cabin crew, flight deck and administration staff.
New look for airline
Richard Branson is also planning a complete rebranding of the airline.
The entrepreneur will ditch the red and white livery for a silver airline body emblazoned with the Virgin logo.
The changes are expected to be made on all its aircraft before September.
The redesign will be seen as a side-swipe at British Airways, which ditched the Union Flag for an "ethnic" tail-fin design in a £60m revamp in 1997.
"We are also spending tens of millions of pounds on a new look inside the planes."
The large scale revamp will include new sleeper cabins on board, as well as new seating and bar areas.
Lady Thatcher was reported to have been critical of British Airways' ethnic art tailfin designs, saying they had abandoned the attachment to Great Britain.
Hostility between the two companies has been high since the days when Mr Branson first set up the fledgling Virgin in the 1980s.
On Monday, Virgin goes to court to try to stop the BA takeover of Gatwick-based Cityflyer.
The company claims the takeover will give BA an unfair advantage at Gatwick and block Virgin's expansion plans of opening three new destinations a year.
Virgin also plans to take on British Telecom in his latest venture into fixed and mobile telephone networks.
The new venture aims to capitalise on the opening up of the telecommunications industry in the UK.
The company confirmed it had a team that was looking at the market very closely and by the end of the year "should have launched a telecoms business".
A decision on whether to give it the final go-ahead will be made in the next few weeks.
Mr Branson will concentrate on technology that enables users to view television pictures and give access to the Internet via their phone.
He also aims to challenge the existing prices offered by British Telecom and the four main mobile phone companies, Cellnet, Orange, Vodafone and One2One.
There are now 12.5 million mobile phone users in the UK, with 2.5 million new customers buying phones over Christmas. Industry experts predict the market is worth £3bn a year in the UK alone, and is set to double over the next four years.
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