Branson launched Virgin Australia’s inaugural Melbourne to Hong Kong flights by carrying the head of the 32-metre night dragon Yar Loong in a traditional procession with lion dancers and drummers.
The performance surprised travellers at Melbourne International Airport on Wednesday morning.
The crowd eagerly wondered what was about to happen, before Yar Loong and Branson appeared.
Onlookers took pictures and videos as Yar Loong came through the crowd.
The Hong Kong service will operate five times a week.
Other notable names at the launch included Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo, Virgin Australia Group chief executive and managing director John Borghetti, Victorian Sports Minister and Tourism and Major Events Minister John Eren, and Hong Kong Tourism Board regional director Andrew Clarke.
Yar Loong isn’t the only Bendigo dragon in the spotlight lately.
Imperial dragon Sun Loong will again perform solo at next year’s Bendigo Easter festival, as the push to bring a new people’s dragon to the city continues.
Fundraising for his replacement – Dai Gum Loong – is building momentum, with Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack hoping to see the two dragons paraded in the 2019 Easter parade.
Ms Jack said the decision to have Dai Gum Loong arrive in 2019 was about making sure the right dragon was chosen to come to Bendigo.