Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has scrapped plans to sell his stake in Virgin Atlantic, instead opting to retain control and expand the airline.
In a blog posted on his website after it was circulated to Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays staff, Branson said he viewed the airline – founded 35 years ago – as “one of his children”.
After authorities green lighted the British Airways-American Airlines partnership, Branson said Virgin needed to form a “strong alliance of our own”.
“Remarkably, the most impressive of the large airlines, Delta, was there to form an alliance with us,” said Branson. “And they have been the best partners we could have wished for.
“That still left our family in control and owning the airline. But with BA’s clout in Europe we needed further partners to provide feed for the Virgin Atlantic network, and discussions started with Air France-KLM. Agreement in principle was reached in May 2017.
“To get the deal done, we initially thought our family would need to reduce its shareholding in Virgin Atlantic. I was willing to do so, reluctantly, to guarantee the long-term success of Virgin Atlantic.”