The boss of Delta Air Lines has ruled out providing further financial support for partner carrier Virgin Atlantic, and has stated he is confident the airline will be able to work through its troubles with the UK government.
Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, with the other 51% retained by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Branson had proposed selling 30% of his share to Air France-KLM but decided late last year to retain his controlling stake.
However, Virgin Atlantic has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, leading to Branson’s carrier seeking support from the UK government. In an open letter to employees this week, Branson said without state intervention, Virgin Atlantic was at risk of collapse.
He said any cash received from the government would not be "free money" and would instead be provided on a commercial basis, citing the £600 million commercial loan granted to easyJet under the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
While easyJet appears to be the first major carrier to benefit from the fund, Virgin is understood to have been the first to make an application for support, but was told – according to the Financial Times – by the government to rethink its bid.