Branson bets BA boss £1m over Virgin Atlantic’s future
Joint venture talks ... Virgin Atlantic is poised to forge a deal with Delta
ANGELA JAMESON and STEVE HAWKES
10 December, 2012
VIRGIN Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson is ready to bet British Airways £1million that the airline brand he started will still be around in five years.
He offered the wager to rival Willie Walsh after the BA chief claimed that the Virgin name would be ditched if it goes ahead with a joint venture with Delta Air Lines.
Name claim ... BA's Willie Walsh
He said: “I split the money among our staff. Rather than suing them on this occasion, I will pay £1million to their staff if Virgin Atlantic disappears within, say, five years.
“If not, BA pays our staff £1million.”
Speaking from his Necker Island retreat in the Caribbean, Sir Richard added: “We intend to carry on for many years to come.
Row ... Richard Branson
He added: “Delta believe that they are the number one airline in the world, they want to acquire slots at Heathrow, and I can’t see how an airline like them would feel they need to have a second brand like Virgin.”
Virgin, the second-largest carrier at Heathrow after BA, is thought to be about to unveil a revenue-sharing deal with Delta on routes between America and Britain — possibly as soon as today.
It would allow both companies to sell flights on the other airline and share revenues from ticket sales.
A similar deal has been in place between American Airlines and BA since 2010.
Virgin has been hit by rising fuel costs and the Eurozone crisis — and posted an £80million loss in its last full year. Branson retains a 49 per cent stake in the firm, after selling the rest to Singapore Airlines for £600million in 1999.
In his blog, Branson called the airline his “baby” and said that “like all children it is still much cherished”.