Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson has hit out at plans by an Islamist entrepreneur to set up rival airline ‘Fly al-Qaeda’ as ‘exploding pie in the sky’.
‘Mr Ayman al-Zawahiri is no Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou – except for also having an unpronounceable name -and the brand won’t work,’ Mr Branson said, ‘because al-Qaeda has a terrible safety record with aircraft, like crashing them into tall buildings.’
But al-Zawahiri – who grew his first beard in admiration of Branson – claims Fly al-Qaeda will be the safest airline in the Middle East once passengers have converted to Islam at check-in.
‘And we’re experts at spotting suicide bombers,’ al-Zawahiri said, ‘because we train them. And many of our operatives have flown on US Rendition Airlines blindfolded. But it’s a pity Richard grabbed the ‘Virgin’ moniker.’
But a dissident al-Qaeda operative, waiting for the first Fly al-Qaeda flight from Afghanistan, said he was against the airline. ‘It’s not what we should be doing,’ he said, activating his underpants at check-in.