In an interview on Bloomberg TV last week, Virgin America founder Sir Richard Branson said that he is open to the idea of starting a new airline in the US, pending the outcome of a dispute with Alaska Airlines about how long it will pay royalties for the Virgin America brand acquired last year.
Alaska bought Virgin’s U.S.-based carrier last December for $2.6 billion, announced in March that the pension in 2019.
When he was asked if he would consider opening a new carrier in the US, Branson said: “watch this space.”
The Virgin-founder indicated that Alaska Airlines should continue to pay royalties “if we decide to start with a different airline.”
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“So, we’ll see what happens,” Branson said in the television interview. The Virgin founder said that he believes that he should royalties be paid by means of 2040.
As the U.S. airline industry is struggling with transfer, fewer flights, and recurrent labor problems, a new airline from Virgin would be a welcome addition to the market. Launched in 2007, the design-conscious Virgin America quickly became a preference for the AMERICAN pilots, and was named by the readers as the Number 1 domestic airline for the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards for nine years in a row.
After Alaska announced its intention to fully dissolve his beloved brand, the passionate entrepreneur, published a farewell love letter to the employees and clients of Virgin America, which quickly went viral. An excerpt:
“To each of your brilliant Teammates, I know that you will continue to do great things, whether you’re with Alaska or the pursuit of a different path. Build a business that puts the people in the first place. Working with partners who share the same progressive and inclusive values. Focus on delivering a great experience for the customer, and the success will come. Make business a force for good. Stay positive; attitude is everything.
“To our fantastic guests, I speak for everyone at Virgin America when I say we are eternally grateful. For believing in the little airline that could. For giving your miles on “Blah airlines” – so you could fly us to the experience. For supporting us in every battle we had with the ‘big boys’. For the belief that all airlines do not have to be the same – and that experience counts.
“You would not believe the number of people who tell me how much they love flying with Virgin America. Keep expecting and demanding more from your airlines! If you miss to fly with Virgin America, you still have your beautiful sisters; Virgin Atlantic is to start the service from London to Seattle next week, and Virgin Australia begins direct service from Melbourne to Hong Kong, the week after that. Virgin flies.”