Following the announcement of the $4 billion acquisition of Virgin Atlantic by Alaska Air, Virgin founder Richard Branson expressed his
“I would be lying if I didn’t admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another,” Branson wrote in a post on Virgin’s website Monday.
“Because I’m not American, the US Department of Transportation stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.”
Throughout the post, Branson told the story of how Virgin America, along with sister companies Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Blue, came to be and the purpose of creating the airline.
“Our US airline, Virgin America, also started out of frustration,” said the post.
“As more airlines consolidated and grew larger and more focused on the bottom line, flying in the US became an awful experience. Despite moves to block our airline from flying, Virgin America began service in August 2007 – with the goal of making flying good again.”
According to Branson, Virgin has attempted to create unique customer experience in the face of an ever-consolidating industry which he said led to the move.
“In 2007, when the airline started service, 60 per cent of the industry was consolidated,” wrote Branson. “Today, the four mega airlines control more than 80 per cent of the US market. Consolidation is a trend that sadly cannot be stopped. Likely feeling the same competitive pressures as Virgin America, Alaska Airlines approached Virgin America with a proposal to merge.”
Branson went on to compliment the employees of Virgin America, and stressed that he hoped Alaska Airlines would recognise the value of Virgin America.