- Richard Branson is in talks to help build a new version of the world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya.
- That’s according to local politicians, who said Branson offered to help during a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday.
- The Ukrainian plane was destroyed in a Russian bombardment at the very beginning of the invasion.
Billionaire businessman Richard Branson visited Antonov Airport, the site of one of the fiercest battles of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to discuss repairs to the runway damaged landing and to view the wreckage of the world’s largest cargo plane, local authorities said on Wednesday.
Davyd Arakhamia, an MP for Ukraine’s Servant of the People party, posted footage on his Telegram channel of Branson – who founded companies such as Virgin Galactic – visiting the airfield in Hostomel, near Kyiv.
In the accompanying message, Arakhamia said the Virgin founder had “expressed his willingness to help” both repair the airfield and build a new version of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest world cargo plane – which was destroyed in heavy fighting in February.
The An-225 had been used to transport humanitarian aid around the world and could hold up to 250 tons of cargo at any one time. It was a symbol of intense national pride in Ukraine, and its destruction caused outrage.
“The sadness is so indescribable. I just realized that exactly two months ago I made my last business trip. I flew on Mriya,” pilot Dmytro Antonov told At the time. Reuters.
“The Russian occupiers can destroy everything, but never the dream,” Arakhamia said Wednesday.
“We are already working on a project to build a new aircraft,” he said, adding that Branson was “pleasantly shocked by our optimism.”
Alexander Khrebet, a reporter for Ukrainian publication ZN, also shared photos of Branson’s visit on Twitter.
—Alexander Khrebet/Олександр Хребет (@AlexKhrebet) June 29, 2022
Branson has not publicly commented on his trip to Hostomel, but earlier on Wednesday a tweet from his official Twitter account mentioned a visit to neighboring Poland to discuss support for Ukraine.
Branson has spoken before about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He described Putin as “insensitive” and calculating, and then called on people to reduce their energy consumption to reduce their dependence on Russia.
A Virgin representative did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment on Branson’s visit.