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Word Count: 4,117
I had not occurred to Richard Branson even in his wildest dreams to own an airline So the message that a Mr Randolph Fields had telephoned to see if he was interested in buying one only mildly excited his curiosity Fields he learned owned a paper airline British Atlantic which had applied for the license to fly from Gatwick to Newark airport New York on an air frequency which had been vacant since the collapse of Laker Airways two years before Fields had spent some months and a modest amount of money examining the feasibility of a new transatlantic airline he had approached several key figures who had been with Laker Airways and solicited their interest he had begun to make enquiries about purchasing an aircraft All he needed was Richard Bransons money As Branson would have been the first to acknowledge common sense dictated that he avoid it at all costs He knew nothing about airlines It was nothing to do with the record industry where he was guru or entertainment of any sort and thus a radical departure from the Virgin principle of expanding into related fields Furthermore the investments necessary to make an airline work could theoretically drag Virgin Group to bankruptcy And yet the more Branson thought about Fieldss scheme the more feasible - and attractive - it began to look Within a week they had agreed in principle to be partners Virgin where going into the airline business The idea of starting an airline had come to Fieldss on demise of Laker Airways in February 1982 Hes first scheme had been to capitalize on the aftermath of the Falkland conflict by operating a service between Gatwick and Port Stanley That was modified to running a business-class only service to New York He had discussions with a company called Travel Trust to back his project and in December 1983 had applied to the British Civil Aviation Authority CAA for a license
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