While it seems to be only a question of time before Singapore Airlines announces it is selling a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, it has been unclear what will to happen to the 51% controlled by Richard Branson.
The Virgin Group founder gave the answer himself on Monday. Branson tweeted: “Who’s spreading rumours that I’m about to give up control of Virgin Atlantic? Sorry, BA, we have no plans to disappear." And he explained in his blog that “Virgin Atlantic was my baby 28 years ago when we set up with just one plane. Like all children, they never really stop being your babies and Virgin Atlantic is still much cherished. It has grown into a wonderful airline which has punched above its weight for almost three decades, giving much larger airlines a real run for their money.” He insisted that “we intend to carry on doing so for many years to come and, contrary to Mr Walsh's hopes, we have no plans to disappear.”
International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh has been quoted as saying that the Virgin Atlantic brand might soon disappear if Delta takes Singapore’s 49%.
Now Branson says he will pay £1 million to British Airways staff if the Virgin Atlantic brand is gone within the next five years. If not, BA should pay Virgin Atlantic’s staff £1 million, Branson proposes. “Since they are so confident, will BA accept our challenge?”