Richard Branson working on the return of supersonic air travel

Billionaire British businessman is collaborating with Boom on its supersonic jet

Billionaire Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., speaks during a discussion at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Goldman's 10,000 Small Businesses is an investment that brings economic opportunity and assists entrepreneurs to create jobs by providing better access to education, capital and business support services. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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Supersonic jetliner travel, which ended more than a decade ago with the Concorde, will make a comeback and transform the aviation industry in coming years, according to billionaire Richard Branson.

"The next big thing, hopefully in my lifetime, will be supersonic travel coming back and people traveling around the world in next to no time," Mr Branson told Bloomberg in Washington on Tuesday. "And hopefully in a relatively environmentally friendly way."

Mr Branson’s Virgin Galactic is already working with Boom Technology on its supersonic jet, and Japan Airlines in December took an option to buy as many as 20 of the aircraft from the Colorado start-up.

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Boom is planning to build a 45- to 55-seat aircraft that cruises at Mach 2.2 (about 1,500 miles per hour) - capable of whisking passengers between New York and London in about three hours.

The Concorde, flown by British Airways and Air France, retired in 2003 after almost three decades in service, weighed down by hefty operating costs, abandoned the jets.