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Virgin Blue Offers To Send Humanitarian Flights To Christmas Island

02/09/2001

The following statement was issued by Sir Richard Branson in Melbourne this morning:


"It is time that the approximately 150 women (and in particular the pregnant women) the children, the elderly and those people who are infirmed were taken off the sea. We have informed the Australian Government that Virgin is willing to send a plane to Christmas Island to take them on to New Zealand. The plane will be ready to fly the moment the Government requests it.


I don't wish to be drawn on the rights or wrongs of the decision this Government has made. This offer of a plane is due purely for humanitarian reasons. We have the equipment and many volunteers - both pilots and cabin crew at Virgin - who have said they'd contribute their time for nothing to help. The idea of sending a plane came from our staff who felt that these refugees should not suffer a day longer."