Sir Richard Branson on-board for Olympics push
VIRGIN boss Sir Richard Branson has backed Brisbane's Olympics push, saying the capital deserves to be put on the map with the iconic event.
Speaking at the celebration of the Brisbane-based airline securing a route into Haneda airport - in which the famous businessman arrived on a baggage carousel surrounded by foam sushi - Branson said the Olympics would be a massive boost for Brisbane and Queensland and Virgin want to be here for it.
Branson also urged Tourism Minister Kate Jones not to be so diplomatic when answering whether she wanted the Games, telling the crowd she definitely wanted the event for Queensland.
It came after Sir Richard made a grand entrance with traditional Japanese drummers by his side and giant chopsticks in each hand, ready to dine at the giant sushi train.
The Virgin Brisbane to Haneda, Tokyo route will commence from March 29 2020 and will connect the two airports for the first time.
"I'm thrilled Virgin Australia will fly from Brisbane to Japan from March next year. Tokyo is a wonderful destination and it's about time travellers between these two cities got to experience the fantastic Virgin Australia awarding winning service.
'I've been lucky enough to visit Japan many times and I know Virgin Australia is going to be welcomed there with open arms.
"Aussie travellers are also in for a real treat although I don't think giant sushi has made it onto the on-board menu just yet."
Virgin Australia Group managing director and CEO Paul Scurrah said: 'I'm delighted to be announcing our new flights to Japan and bringing our competitive airfares and award-winning service to this market for the very first time. This announcement is a real milestone both for Virgin Australia and Queensland, as we become the first airline to connect Brisbane to the closest and most convenient airport in Tokyo.
"We're pleased to have Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson here today helping us celebrate one of the first of many Virgin events we have planned for this truly exciting announcement for Virgin Australia."
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said: "This new service is a win for our tourism industry and a win for Japanese travellers, who we know love our state.
"Almost half of all Japanese travellers to Australia come to Queensland. This service will bring 100,000 extra seats to Queensland every year.
"These flights are worth $250 million over the next three years."
Gert-Jan de Graaff, chief executive officer Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) said: "The granting of a Haneda slot for Australia presented a genuine 'once in a lifetime opportunity' for Brisbane to ensure that Queensland was connected with both of Tokyo's airports.
"The allocation of this slot to Brisbane Airport's home carrier, Virgin Australia, has confirmed Brisbane as a premier hub for Queensland and Australia, and we have no doubt the services will be hugely popular, further strengthening ties between Queensland and Japan."