While we have all been gearing up for Routes Europe, two of the industry’s most famous airline executives have been enjoying a little fun, all in the name of charity, of course! Back in 2010 Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes wagered on which one of their Formula One racing teams would finish ahead of each other in their debut season of the 2010 Formula One Grand Prix and that the loser would serve as a female flight attendant on board the winner's airline.
Well, on May 12, 2013 that day arrived and a sultry, lipstick-wearing Sir Richard Branson finally earned his stripes as AirAsia’s flight attendant today, when he honoured his friendly wager on board AirAsia X’s flight D7237 from Perth to Kuala Lumpur. The Virgin Group founder and chairman shaved his legs, slipped into a sexy red skirt and took to the skies as a female flight attendant on a special AirAsia X charity flight which departed Perth bound for Air Asia’s Kuala Lumpur base.
The flamboyant entrepreneur spent the five and half hour journey pouring coffee or tea, serving meals, distributing goodies, entertaining and making in-flight announcements for the lucky guests and international media on the flight which helped to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“He is an entrepreneur, visionary, knight and adventurer, Sir Richard can now also add AirAsia flight attendant to his long list of credentials,” joked Fernandes. “Sir Richard graduated as a member of the AirAsia cabin crew with flying colours and he performed all his in-flight duties with his usual good-humour and enthusiasm. Sir Richard is truly a great sport and AirAsia is pleased to be able to contribute to those in need through this charity flight.”
This is not actually the first time Sir Richard has dressed in drag and he has also previously sported a wedding dress to promote one of his previous businesses, but taking on the role of a flight attendant was new for the entrepreneur. “This has been a real first for me but I have enjoyed the experience and I have nothing but respect for what our fabulous flight attendants do every day to keep us safe,” he said.
“I am also grateful to have had Tony, whom I lost the bet to, willingly help me out on the flight. I trust we kept the passengers well fed and amused. It was a lot of fun. I’ve always said I’m a man of my word and I’m happy to have finally honoured the bet and contributed to a great charity along the way.”
AirAsia X is contributing AUD$100 from each seat sold to the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Australia and will also donate 10 per cent of all inflight sales including duty free merchandise sold on board the flight to the foundation. The Starlight Children Foundation was established in Australia 1988 and this year celebrating its 25th year, Starlight is dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill and hospitalised children, and their families, around the country.
In preparation for his new role, Sir Richard had his legs publicly shaved during a cocktail event in Perth on the evening of May 11, 2013 which was attended by members of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, travel industry representatives and community including business leaders, and members of the media. Other activities were also carried out throughout the evening to further raise funds for the foundation.
The fanfare ended at the Low Cost Carrier terminal in Kuala Lumpur where a brief graduation ceremony took place for Branson. Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia had the honour of handing over the AirAsia cabin crew graduation certificate along with the AirAsia crew uniform and shoes to Sir Richard as part of the airlines gratitude to him for being a good sport.
“Aviation history has been made and the memory will definitely last a life time! Watching Branson serving Tony as a flight attendant on board AirAsia X’s flight was indeed hilarious knowing that the former was Tony’s mentor in the past. Justice has now been served for the both of them and what’s more X-citing is the fact that both share similar values in character; determination, grit and passion in what they do,” said Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer, AirAsia X. “This also proves that anything is possible when you set your heart to it and doing it for a good cause gives it a more meaningful feel.”
We are now inviting Routes Europe delegates and readers of The HUB to come up with a witty caption for the below image from the special charity flight. Please keep them clean and we will post some of our favourites on this page later in the week. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us using #RoutesEurope #CaptionComp hashtags.