Sir Richard Branson

Branson's Virgin Atlantic considers stock market listing

The move could see shares offered to private investors as well as big City firms, but mean he loses overall control of his flagship business.

Virgin Group owns 51% of the airline, and US-based Delta Air Lines the rest.

It is understood Virgin has hired City advisors to draw up flotation plans, but the airline called it speculation.

Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government.

These are the first changes since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday - the same day that Amazon's Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

Sir Richard Branson rockets to the edge of space

The UK entrepreneur flew high above New Mexico in the US in the vehicle that his company has been developing for 17 years.

The trip was the "experience of a lifetime", he said. He returned safely to Earth just over an hour after leaving the ground.

"I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space," he said in a press conference following the flight. "The whole thing was just magical."

Sir Richard Branson sets 11 July to make spaceflight

He'll be a passenger in the back of the Unity rocket plane his Virgin Galactic company has been developing in the US for the better part of two decades.

The vehicle can climb to an altitude of 90km (295,000ft), giving those onboard a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

Sir Richard's intention is to introduce a commercial spaceflight service.

Some 600 individuals have already lodged deposits to take the ride.

Covid-19: Sir Richard Branson offers Caribbean island to secure Virgin bailout

The billionaire Virgin Group boss said in an open letter to staff he was not asking for a handout, but a commercial loan, believed to be £500m ($NZ1bn).

The airline's survival was in doubt, and his Necker Island home in the Caribbean could be mortgaged, he said.

It comes as Virgin Group's airline in Australia faces administration.

Both airlines have been hit hard by the global coronavirus lockdown, and Sir Richard has appealed to governments in both countries for help.