17 DECEMBER 2012


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Article from BTNews 17 DECEMBER 2012

Branson calls Walsh’s bluff

In a joint statement with Delta airlines Sir Richard Branson confirmed that he plans to keep control of Virgin Atlantic (VS) following an announcement that the US airline Delta has purchased for US$360m the 49% of the carrier owned by Singapore Airlines (see BTN 10 December).  In a dig at the IAG boss, Sir Richard said that Willie Walsh was misguided for saying the brand would be ditched.

"Rumours have been spread in the press that I am planning to give up control of Virgin Atlantic and, according to Willie Walsh... that our brand will soon disappear. This is wishful thinking and totally misguided", Branson said. 

The comprehensive deal will create a partnership not dissimilar to that already operating on the North Atlantic by American Airlines and British Airways.  Delta is part of Skyteam and is based at Heathrow in T4 whilst Virgin Atlantic, in T3, is unaligned.  With Virgin introducing flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester to Heathrow, a passenger flow to Delta would be welcome.  One possibility for the future would be Virgin and Qatar Airways (oneworld) swapping terminals (see Virgin domestic).

The share purchase deal is expected to be implemented by the end of 2013. www.delta.com www.virgin-atlantic.com

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