Sir Richard Branson could help rebuild wrecked Ukrainian airport

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Richard Branson attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky
Richard Branson attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky

Sir Richard Branson on Wednesday visited a bombed airport outside Kyiv to talk about rebuilding the site, which once hosted the world’s largest cargo plane.

Sir Richard,  the founder of Virgin Group, was pictured walking around the Antonov terminal at Hostomel, a city that experienced heavy fighting and was briefly occupied by Russian troops.

Taras Dumenko, the mayor of Hostomel, on Wednesday wrote on Facebook that he had given a tour to the British billionaire.

“Richard Branson has been steadfast in his support of Ukraine, its sovereignty, territorial integrity, advocating for the toughest sanctions against Russia, its leaders and economy,” he said.

Richard Branson (second right) met local officials at the Antonov airport terminal at Hostomel - Taras Dumenko/via Reuters
Richard Branson (second right) met local officials at the Antonov airport terminal at Hostomel - Taras Dumenko/via Reuters

Sir Richard spoke to local officials and Ukraine’s state-owned weapons manufacturer about rebuilding the airport, according to Mr Dumeenko. The airfield hosted Mriya, the world’s largest cargo plane, which was destroyed in the fighting.

Authorities said Mriya, which means “dream” in Ukrainian, was beyond repair but Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has since called it a “matter of ambition” to build a replacement.

Mriya, the world’s largest cargo plane, was once the pride of Ukraine before it was destroyed, below, by Russian forces
Mriya, the world’s largest cargo plane, was once the pride of Ukraine before it was destroyed, below, by Russian forces
Destroyed Mriya aircraft
Destroyed Mriya aircraft

Sir Richard is a vocal supporter of Ukraine, and in an article on the day of the invasion in February lashed out at Vladimir Putin for an “unilateral, unprovoked act of aggression”, and expressing solidarity with Russians opposed to the war.

He also called for “crippling sanctions” against Russia to defeat a rise of totalitarianism in Europe.

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