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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 00:01 GMT
Travel revival means more Virgin jobs
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340
Virgin Atlantic says there are encouraging signs that a three year slump in transatlantic air travel may be easing.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson said business class travellers - which are crucial to airline profitability - were returning to the key London-New York route.

He described the airline's performance as "incredibly strong in recent weeks", and said Virgin was looking to the future "with real optimism".

Virgin says it will recruit more than 1400 staff over the next year, as part of a worldwide expansion plan.

The airline is planning to start new routes to Sydney in Australia, the Cuban capital Havana, and Nassau in the Bahamas.

Virgin says it will also increase services to existing destinations in the United States, Caribbean, Asia and the Far East.


Like other transatlantic airlines, Virgin was badly hit by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

In the aftermath, it laid off 1,100 workers, although about 500 staff were re-hired last year.

The recruitment over the next 12 months will at last cancel out the jobs lost after the World Trade Center attacks.

The new positions will include up to 700 cabin crew, 70 pilots and 300 ground staff at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. There are also 300 new office jobs.

Virgin Atlantic currently employs around 7,500 people.

Virgin plans to start services to Cuba and the Bahamas in July, with the launch of services to Sydney expected before the end of the year.

It will also increase services to Las Vegas, Grenada and Tobago from July next year.

The airline's also planning to be the first British airline to begin flying the new Airbus A380 double decker jumbo, from the beginning of 2006.

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