Richard Branson lifted up his kilt to the watching crowd to reveal pants bearing the slogan “stiff competition” as he stepped off the first Virgin plane at Edinburgh airport from Heathrow.
The Virgin Atlantic president performed his latest publicity stunt as he promoted his company’s expansion into Scotland.
“Stiff competition” alluded to Richard Branson’s newly launched domestic service, Little Red, which will now offer Virgin flights between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and London, in direct competition with British Airways.
Richard Branson – who had a Scottish grandmother and is married to a Glaswegian – stood on an elevated platform on the windy runway and said it was “great to be in Edinburgh” before he exposed his underwear to a crowd which included Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Speaking after the stunt, the billionaire said he was “enjoying wearing a kilt”.
“Despite the weather it is nice to have a bit of fresh air and it is very comfortable,” he added.
“I’ve got to the age where it is wise to always wear something under my kilt- especially in weather like this.”
This is not the first time Richard Branson has resorted to such uncouth publicity stunts.
The new Little Red service launched yesterday will be the first time Virgin Atlantic has operated connecting flights from Scottish destinations, and Richard Branson said he was “excited” to have been given the airport slots that came available after domestic airline British Midlands was forced out of business.
“We are delighted that we managed to pick up these slots as it means we can offer stiff competition to British Airways,” he said.
“There are a lot of people from around the world who love to fly to Edinburgh and Aberdeen and now we can finally now compete properly with BA and give people the opportunity to travel up here with Virgin.
“I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Scotland.”
The expanded Virgin Atlantic service will create 130 new jobs in Scotland, and is expected to generate £75 million ($118 million) in revenue for the Scottish economy.
Speaking yesterday, Richard Branson said that while he was “thrilled” that Virgin had finally been allowed to expand services to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, he was unhappy that they had been prevented from operating out of Glasgow.
“I would love to be flying to Glasgow as well, but for some bizarre reason the competition authorities, who bequeathed us these slots, didn’t allow us to have the slots to compete with British airways out of Glasgow,” he said.
After reporting losses of up to £135 million ($212 million) over the past two years, Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic’s new Chief Executive, Craig Kreeger, said that the new domestic service was just one part of the company’s plans to push its finances back into the black.
And despite his brazen publicity stunt, Richard Branson was insistent that he would remain on neutral ground over the question of Scottish Independence.
“If Scotland becomes independent they will have an airline that will be delighted to connect them to their neighboring country and if it stays part of Great Britain, we will be equally delighted to have Scottish people use our services to take visits down to little old England,” said Richard Branson.
Either way, Virgin will stay independent of this particular debate.”