Plane Stupid at the PR Week awards: the movie

See what happened when Plane Stupid borrowed Virgin Atlantic's table at the PR Week awards. I don't think it's spoiling the ending to suggest that they weren't overly impressed.

Plane Stupid turf Virgin Atlantic out of their seats at the PR awards

Last night seven Plane Stupid activists and one Heathrow resident popped over to the PR Week Awards and hijacked a table reserved for Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic have been strong advocates for the third runway at Heathrow and expansion of Britain's airports, which we thought they shouldn't get away with.

Dressed in glamourous evening wear, the activists entered the glitzy awards, which celebrates the highlights of the year's public relations work. They occupied Virgin Atlantic's table and refused to leave.

Christine Taylor, who lives next door to Heathrow and whose mother is due to lose her home if Heathrow’s third runway goes ahead said:

"It's crazy to build more runways around London - we already have six. My mother wants to live out her days in her own home, but the bully boys of aviation think their profits are more important. Tonight at the PR awards we gave them a taste of what it’s like to be turfed out of your rightful place."

Virgin update: sour grapes (and coconuts)

Branson Coconut

Oh dear. This weekend we ran a story about how Virgin had been 'freeped' - they'd posted a poll online to gather support for the third runway, only for 94% of people to vote against expansion.

Virgin promised that they would show the poll to the DfT, but news has reached us today that the poll has disapeared - although links to it still exist on their website. Yesterday afternoon it stood at 96% opposed - with over 700 votes against the third runway. Surely El Branson can't have pulled the plug just because people didn't agree with him? Maybe he's sulking, after everyone dismissed his fancy biofuel project as greenwash?

Virgin gets freeped

Virgin poll

Anyone who's anyone at Virgin Atlantic has spent the day huddled around a camera, waffling on about how flying one aeroplane with 20% biofuels makes up for the emissions from their thousands of trans-Atlantic services. But behind the scenes, Virgin is just as carbon-addicted as the other airlines. Virgin's website proudly declares their support for the third runway, and asks faithful passengers whether they agree.

So far, so normal; but as Virgin found out, people really don't want this lump of tarmac. According to Virgin's poll, over 90% of people oppose Heathrow expansion. We know the runway's unpopular, but this isn't just an outpouring of opposition. Virgin got freeped.

In-flight activism with Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson

Did you smile today? Try to watch less TV? Sieze the moment? Then congratulations - you're a Virgin Atlantic in-flight activist. Welcome to the world of We Are What We Do.

This is the latest nonsense from weirdie beardie Richard Branson who's trying to persuade Virgin frequent fliers that if they "Join something" then they're halfway to saving the world. Virgin Atlantic has produced an in-flight magazine, with a list of 100 actions which will save the world. Most of them are pathetically inadequate ("Use a biro from start to finish"; "Show empathy"), but that's not the point: "Our big shtick at We Are What We do is that small actions that x lots of people = big change. We don't all have to do everything. But most of us doing something will change the world."

Greenwash my jets, Branson tells students

Richard Branson, part-time eco-warrior, part-time carbon criminal, spent today opening a new university and asking students to help him 'think green'. Branson wants students to pitch into his efforts to reduce the emissions from his growing fleet of trans-Atlantic aircraft.

"Among ideas the entrepreneur is inviting undergraduates to consider are lightweight seat to improve fuel efficiency, Virgin Atlantic uniforms made from recycled materials and energy efficient facilities at airport terminals."

Our spy-in-the-sky reports that Mr. Branson's suggestions met with hushed giggles from the students, who pointed out that grounding Virgin aircraft and stopping plans for space tourism might do more for reducing emissions than dressing trolley dolleys in costumes made from old duty-free bottles.

Biofuels - sadly not the answer


The problem with being a grassroots organisation is that you are honour-bound to tell the truth - even when popular consensus has decided to disagree with you. So sadly it falls to me to break it to you that biofuels are not going to solve the thorny issue of aviation emissions.

Don't tell Richard Branson that though - he's hellbent on greenwashing his expanding empire by running his planes on biofuel "around the start of the next decade" - and one 747 by the end of 2008.