Richard Branson Says Alaska Airlines “Castrated” Virgin America

Oct 21, 2017

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Richard Branson is still livid about Virgin America’s sale to Alaska Airlines. Back in April 2016, he originally sounded off about the matter in a blog post saying, “there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.” Again this week he aired his grievances publicly on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” going so far as to say that “big companies often do this: they buy something because it’s doing so well and then they castrate it,” — a move Branson says he doesn’t normally take “lying down.”

In his new book, Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography, Branson continues to discuss how disappointed he is with the sale. As Virgin America is a US-registered airline, Branson and his foreign businesses were unable to control voting interests during the acquisition. This left the voting shareholders with the ability to sell off the company to Alaska Airlines which — as he explained on air — was an offer “they decided they couldn’t refuse.”

Not only was Branson disappointed with the sale, but he also expressed his disagreement with Alaska’s decision to get rid of the brand entirely which, as we learned recently, will occur on April 24, 2018. “Alaska is very foolish to just absorb [Virgin America],” Branson added. He took the opportunity to point out that “Virgin America has been voted best airline in the States 12 years in a row.” To be fair, that’s not a universal opinion, as Virgin America landed #3 on The Points Guy‘s 2017 airline rankings.

Image courtesy of Virgin America.
Gone soon will be the perks that set Virgin America apart from the domestic airline crowd. Image courtesy of Virgin America.

Nevertheless, Branson hinted this may not be his last foray into the airline business. In an interview on Bloomberg TV in May he noted that Alaska has to keep paying royalties “unless we decide to start another airline. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Watch CNBC’s full interview with Branson here.

Featured image by Steven Lawton via Getty Images.

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