What does a record company boss know about air travel? That's the question Sir Richard Branson's colleagues at Virgin Records were asking themselves in 1984 when he founded Virgin Atlantic Airways.
Twenty-six years later, with the company turning over more than £2 billion per year and carrying between five and six million passengers annually, it's clear he knows quite a lot.
Virgin - named runner-up in the Best Airline category at the HolidayExtras.com Customers' Awards 2010 - now flies from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow to 30 destinations in the US, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, Dubai, India, China, Japan and Hong Kong.
"A first rate experience. Knowledgeable, friendly and professional staff who really put the needs of the customer first."
Sir Richard's aim was to provide a high-quality, value-for-money airline, and today the name is synonymous with excellent service and enjoyable travel. This is reflected in the long list of awards Virgin has won. These include two gongs at this year's Global Travel Awards: the Travel Weekly Globe award for best scheduled airline to the US and Canada, and the consumer award for favourite airline. In last year's OAG Airline Industry Awards, Virgin scooped best airline based in western Europe and best transatlantic airline.