Friends are good to have wherever you can get ‘em, and Richard Branson’s would-be US venture, Virgin America, has few so far. But one has emerged from the bayous and wetlands of Louisiana: Air Gumbo, which calls itself a “starting-up airline our self”. Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of the centres of Cajun music, Air Gumbo tells the Transportation Department that Virgin America’s plan is good for people, just as its own plan is. Calling itself “a one-frill airline,” Air Gumbo has planned to begin flying since early 2003, basing its service strategy on Louisiana-style hospitality on aircraft painted to look like “a bowl of gumbo, including a giant red crawfish, onions, sausage and red peppers,” in the words of its founder, named Ralston Champagnie. As they say, ‘You gotta take friends where ya’ find ‘em’.