Virgin’s billionaire boss swaps suit for skirt to honor bet
KUALA LUMPUR—British billionaire Richard Branson strutted his stuff as an AirAsia flight attendant Sunday—complete with fishnet stockings and figure-hugging red pencil skirt.
His star turn on the flight from Australia’s Perth to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur came after he lost a Grand Prix bet with the Malaysian budget carrier’s founder.
Virgin boss Branson agreed with AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes in 2010 that whoever’s Formula One team—then Virgin and Lotus—finished their debut season lower would serve as a stewardess on the other’s airline.
The British tycoon came off worse after Virgin ended 12th in the World Constructors’ Championship, two spots behind Lotus. But his stint as a stewardess was postponed in early 2011, after he injured himself while skiing.
There was no escape on Sunday however, when Branson was recruited to serve coffee, tea and meals on the five-and-a-half-hour flight.
Though he kept his trademark beard, he shaved his legs to show them off in black fishnets beneath his red AirAsia uniform. He topped off the outfit with bright red lipstick, heavy eye makeup and his blonde hair pulled back in a quiff.
Photos from the flight showed him chatting with passengers and serving food to Fernandes, who used to work for Branson in the music industry.
“This has been a real first for me but I have enjoyed the experience,” Branson was quoted as saying in an AirAsia statement. “I’ve always said I’m a man of my word and I’m happy to have finally honoured the bet.” Branson disembarked in red flat ballet pumps and posed with a handbag for waiting media.
Fernandes said Branson graduated as an AirAsia cabin crew member “with flying colours.” AirAsia donated part of the money from ticket sales for the flight to a children’s charity in Australia.
Since the original bet was made between Branson and Fernandes, Virgin’s team has been bought by Marussia Motors, while Fernandes’ team has been renamed Caterham. Both of those teams finished 2012 with no points. AFP
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