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GAYBO AIRWAYS; High-flying Branson delighted at Virgin's Late Late arrival.

BROADCASTER Gay Byrne was on cloud nine yesterday after landing a top job with Virgin Airlines.

But Ireland's highest-paid star revealed he had no idea how much he will be paid when he joins the board of Richard Branson's company later this year.

The dynamic duo broke the news at Shannon Airport before zooming off on a Virgin Express jet for lunch and a game of golf.

Gay, reputed to earn over pounds 500,000 a year with RTE, was head-hunted by Branson when the Virgin boss learned of his upcoming retirement.

Branson said: "I put the idea to Gay after I had appeared on his Late Late Show. I am honoured and delighted to welcome Ireland's best-known broadcaster to the board of Virgin Express.

"I know he will make important contributions to the airline's continued success."

Gay, who hosts his last Late Late Show on Friday, May 21, said yesterday: "I've always retained a passion for flying. I have to admit I have never flown on a Virgin plane but I did have my pilot's licence before I married.

"I just didn't have have time to keep up the flying afterwards.

"I am delighted to be taking up the job but I have no idea what it is and I don't know what I will be paid."

Gay, accompanied yesterday by his wife Kathleen and daughter Crona, retired from his radio show at Christmas after 26 years and will bring his Late Late show to an end after a record 36 years.
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Author:Dunne, James
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 5, 1999
Words:253
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