Sir Richard Branson was a “trolley dolly” with attitude as he flashed some freshly-shaved leg while working for rival airline AirAsia today.
The billionaire boss of rival airline, Virgin Australia, was fulfilling a bet he lost to AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, by dressing and serving as a flight attendant.
About 300 passengers on board the flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur were treated to a skyhigh show, with Branson – sporting AirAsia’s short, tight red uniform and a full face of makeup – even performing a safety demonstration, which earned applause.
As the stunt-loving entrepreneur entered the plane, Aerosmith hit Dude Looks Like a Lady boomed over the internal sound system.
The flamboyant 63-year-old’s first duty was to take out a drinks tray.
While serving, he mischievously upended the entire contents on Fernandes.
“It slipped, it really did,” he insisted.
The Malaysian, who had to change into a dry set of clothes, made it clear who was boss.
“You’re going to be cleaning the toilets,” he said.
About 50 media from the UK, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and Australia recorded Branson’s every move as he made his way around the plane, shaking hands, kissing cheeks and posing for photographs with passengers.
“I could get to like this,” he said, putting a stocking-clad leg up on a passenger’s chair.
“All the girls want to have a touch. I don’t normally get that.”
Branson admitted to wearing a dress only once before, when he launched the ill-fated Virgin Brides business.
“I’m a great believer in having fun, throwing yourself into everything you do,” he said. “If you lose a bet you’ve got to honour that bet and if you can raise lots of money for charity, which we’ve done today, so much the better.”
Branson lost the bet to Fernandes more than two years ago. The pair wagered on which one of their Formula One racing teams would finish ahead of the other, in the debut season of the 2010 Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
Branson, who was in Perth this week to launch his recently acquired WA-based regional airline, said several events had hampered his ability to honour the bet before now.
“First, I broke my leg, then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decided to get married, then I burnt down my house on Necker Island,” he joked.
Funds raised by the stunt will be donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Australia. AirAsia X will donate $100 from each seat sold on the flight. A VIP party at Perth’s Bar One last night also raised money, with benefactors chipping in to shave Branson’s legs on stage and buy auction items. $200,000 has been raised in total, with Multiplex heir Tim Roberts contributing half of that amount.
The flight ended with Branson being fired before he and Fernandes sprayed each other with champagne.