Virgin Atlantic to keep name after CEO sparring

First published in December 2012

Virgin Atlantic

NEWS-BITE | PR | Public Squabbles: Virgin Atlantic will stay branded as such despite the acquisition of a 49% stake in the company by Delta Air Lines. The news follows an interesting war of words this week between British Airways chief Willie Walsh and Virgin boss Richard Branson.

The executive sparring began when Walsh predicted that the Virgin brand would disappear from the airline sector in the next five years if and when Delta acquired the half of Virgin Atlantic owned by Singapore Airlines. Branson hit back by betting Walsh a million pounds that Virgin Atlantic would still be operating with that name in 2017.

In a subsequent interview with the Telegraph, Walsh said he didn’t have a million pounds, and that the two men should instead base their bet around something that would be equally painful to both of them, a “knee in the groin”. Of course public hostilities between the BA and Virgin airlines are nothing new, though even by their standards, this exchange of words was particularly forthright.

Either way, it’s been confirmed that Branson’s new business partners in his airline are happy to keep the business operating under the existing brand name. For the time being at least. Walsh, no doubt, would point out there’s still plenty of time for him to be proven right.

Using the attention his executive squabble with Walsh secured for his blog, Branson said the Virgin/Delta alliance would further shake up the airline industry for the good of the consumer.

Wrote the Virgin chief: “For almost three decades Virgin Atlantic has been punching above its weight. We fought hard to stop BA and American Airlines getting together but they created a complete giant across the Atlantic. Now we are partnering with Delta we can give them a real run for their money, which is I suspect why BA’s Chief Executive has behaved the way he has over the last couple of days”.