TRAVEL SPACE & AVIATION
Richard Branson sold about $150 million in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. stock, tapping his biggest listed asset again to prop up his business empire during the coronavirus pandemic. - Bloomberg.
The billionaire offloaded almost 5.6 million shares -- about 2.5% of the space-travel company -- in line with a trading plan adopted last month, leaving him with a 24% stake in Virgin Galactic, according to a regulatory filing. The proceeds will support Branson’s travel and leisure businesses, as well as help develop new and existing ventures, a Virgin Group representative said.
The move marks Branson’s first sale of Virgin Galactic shares since he raised more than $300 million in the first half of 2020 to help other Virgin Group units through the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. -- the company most responsible for building Branson’s global brand -- was rescued from the brink of collapse with a 1.2 billion-pound ($1.7 billion) package that included about 200 million pounds from Branson.
“Because many of our businesses are in industries like travel, leisure and wellness, they are in a massive battle to survive and save jobs,” Branson wrote in a blog post last year.
It's a fairly small aircraft, with a length of just 21 meters (68.8 feet). But after a tough year for the airline industry, it symbolizes a big step forward in aviation history as the first privately built supersonic aircraft.
Every other supersonic aircraft up to this point — the European Concorde flown until 2003 and the Soviet Tu-144 flown until 1999, as well as many fast military aircraft — was funded by billions from state coffers and built with government mandates - DW.
Startup Boom Supersonic from Denver in the US is different. It unveiled the first privately manufactured supersonic jet last October. The single-seat XB-1 is nicknamed Baby Boom.
This year, the demonstrator aircraft is due to begin a lengthy test program above the Mojave Desert in California, initially flying at Mach 1.3 (about 1,600 kilometers per hour, or 1,000 miles per hour).
The aim is to validate the aerodynamic concept and then basically build the same thing on a bigger scale — to result in the Overture passenger airliner for up to 75 passengers. By the second half of this decade, it is supposed to become a smaller-scale successor to the Concorde, which had a capacity of 100 passengers.