British billionaire Richard Branson kicked off Virgin Atlantic’s nonstop service from London to Seattle today with a rhetorical kiss for the Emerald City, but also a verbal kick at Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which is absorbing another one of the airlines he founded.
First, the kiss: Branson took a star turn on the tarmac after Flight 105’s arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, surrounded by flight attendants bearing Union Jack umbrellas. Wearing blue jeans and a hometown Filson lumberjack jacket, he paid tribute to Seattle’s entrepreneurial bent.
“It’s a city after my own heart,” Branson told a crowd of VIPs and journalists assembled in the airport’s arrival hall. “Very entrepreneurial, some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world live here.”