Branson: Virgin Atlantic brand not going anywhere

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Branson: Virgin Atlantic brand not going anywhere

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Dec 11, 2012 ... _ATW-04_58

Branson: Virgin Atlantic brand not going anywhere
Aaron Karp
December 10, 2012

Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson pushed back against "rumors" that the sale of 49% of Virgin Atlantic Airways to Delta Air Lines would end the Virgin Atlantic brand.

Singapore Airlines has confirmed media reports that it is in talks over the possible sale of its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, and multiple news outlets, including Reuters and Bloomberg, are reporting that Atlanta-based Delta is the lead suitor to buy the stake. The parties are not commenting publicly. Virgin Group would presumably retain its 51% stake.

Branson reacted after International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh told The Telegraph that he “can’t see Delta wanting to operate the Virgin brand because if they do, what does that say about the Delta brand?” He said Delta primarily wants Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow slots.

Branson said on his blog, “Rumors have been spread in the press that I am planning to give up control of Virgin Atlantic and, according to Willie Walsh—who runs [British Airways]—that our brand will soon disappear. This is wishful thinking and totally misguided … Virgin Atlantic was my baby 28 years ago when we set up with just one plane. Like all children, they never really stop being your babies and Virgin Atlantic is still much cherished … We intend to carry on … for many years to come and, contrary to Mr. Walsh’s hopes, we have no plans to disappear.”

Branson did recently concede Virgin Atlantic is likely to join an alliance. Delta is a key member of SkyTeam.

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