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Your questions to Guest Editor Sir Richard Branson answered

We invited you to submit your questions to Sir Richard Branson, today's guest editor.

Hundreds of you sent in questions and we picked a shortlist of the best questions that Sir Richard answered below.

Richard selected the following question about the "real heroes of aviaiton" as his favourite out of the hundreds submitted. Congratulations to Jean-Baptiste Bertrand who wins a return flight anywhere in the Virgin network.

According to you, who are the real "heroes" of aviation? The entrepreneurs, who launch new and very innovative programs but who sometimes stay out of the light, or the women and men who fly, who people tend to remember first?I wish to add that I really admire your dynamism and audaciousness in all the field of business. Jean-Baptiste Bertrand

Sir Richard Branson: The heroes are the operating crews who successfully fly every day. It's important to remember they fly because of the vision of heroes like Freddie Laker and Amelia Earhart who we owe so much to.

Other shortlisted questions:

You have made several world record-breaking attempts in your life, including the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing, crossing the Pacific from Japan to Canada in a balloon and achieving the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. With your obvious passion for aviation and desire to break world records I wondered whether you had any plans for another aviation-related world record-attempt in the pipeline? Carey Coffield Manager, Corporate Asset Finance

RB: I never say never and I’m very much on the search for record attempts, My focus at the moment is on crossing the Atlantic and setting a new record by sea again, rather than by air. I think the days are over when I’ll try anything by balloon again. Space is also my next frontier.

If you did not have a passion for music or the aviation industry what career path would you have chosen and why? Jason Hassenally

RB: Not politics or banking! I'va always wanted to be in journalism either as an editor or reporter. It fascinates me.

Virgin Galactic is going to offer a service that can't be matched by anyone else at this moment. It brings the possibility of space flight to a lot people. What has surprised you the most since you gave the green light to Virgin Galactic? For example: are there things you thought that wouldn't be possible, but now they are? Media feedback? The amount of time it consumes in your daily life? PS compliments to you for signing with Brawn G.P. Thijs van der Tuin - The Netherlands. 

RB: What has surprised me is our successful quest to find a re-entry mechanism. It has made Virgin Galactic possible and it is something that has plagued NASA before. I'm pleased to say Virgin Galactic consumes much of my time and I'm confident our great team will make it happen shortly. I can't wait to be on the first flight with my family. Thank you for your kind comments on Brawn G.P. Jenson Button has done a great job with a great car.

Have you ever considered entering a budget subsidiary into the lucrative but staid domestic Japanese airline market? Andy Souter

RB: No, but it's one worth considering. Just last week I was in Tokyo announcing a new Virgin Atlantic codeshare with ANA. Let's see how that progresses and offers more choice to Japanese consumers.

Would you ever consider adding business aircraft to your organization, as a fractional provider or in some other capacity? Possibly to provide end-route service to airports not served by airlines? Will Alibrandi - Aero Gas Turbine Analyst

RB: It's not on the agenda for now but we do have Virgin Charter in the US which matches users of private jets. It's worth a look

Can I please ask what surprises are in store for your A380s? Kevin Johnson

RB: I'm sure our competitors would love to know. Watch this space.

Since the jet age, the world has come to expect long-term economic growth and a close link between that growth and air travel demand. Yet this is the first year since World War Two that the world economy is shrinking, and traffic has fallen precipitously. Has something structural changed that would affect either the level of growth or the connection between growth and travel? Richard Aboulafia Vice President, Analysis Teal Group Corporation

RB: All that's changed is that travellers want to travel even more and even further so the growth will continue. Economies will always rely on the jet engine, especially regions like the Caribbean and Africa. Five kilometres of railway track only gets you 5km down the road - 5km of runway gets you to the world. Air travel will always be needed - we just have to make it cleaner and more sustainable through new technology such as the Boeing 787, through greater use of biofuels and continuing research and development into natural energy such as solar and wind power.

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