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Virgin's Back!

By Chris Karr in News on Dec 6, 2006 1:54PM

12_2006-branson.jpg Chicagoist is a big fan of Richard Branson. He's the type of tycoon we would want to be if some obscure rich uncle became wormfood and left us a couple of billion dollars. He's been a busy guy, with his fingers in a lot of businesses, including entertainment, retail, and transportation. We're particularly a fan of his Virgin Galactic idea and we can't wait to buy tickets on a suborbital flight. We don't care where we'd go - we'd be there for just for the trip

The big news yesterday is that Branson's Virgin Airlines will be returning to Chicago after they left post-9/11. Virgin will return to O'Hare with an initial non-stop route from Chicago to London. We've been on enough cut-rate sardine can airplanes to hope that Virgin's return to Chicago works out and that more routes are added as part of the new Virgin America that is scheduled to go online next year.

Branson didn't just bring his airline back to Chicago, he brought a couple good suggestions too. While the Mayor wants to make Chicago the greenest city in the US, we really haven't been doing as well as we should. Branson's offered a simple solution that would help things out a bit from the airport side. His suggestion is that planes shouldn't start their engines until they are ready to actually leave. Firing up the engines while sitting on the tarmac burns two or three tons of fuel and contributes a significant amount of pollution to the city. Instead of having the planes get to the runway under their own power, Branson suggested that ethanol-powered tugs pull the planes out there.

Now, we didn't take "Airport Management 101" during our undergraduate days, but we don't see any problems with this proposal. It's a simple idea that we wished we would have thought about and if Branson's right, it cuts down on pollution, saves the airlines fuel (an important thing given our adventures in the Middle East), and makes life easier for that poor guy who has the window seat next to the engine. It seems win-win any way we look at it.

Hopefully when Branson comes back to get things situated in O'Hare next year, he'll have some other good ideas for our fair city.

Read Londonist's take on this story here.

Image note: Branson's the dapper fellow on the right. Mr. Pudgy on the left is NM governor Bill Richardson.