Founded by celebrity CEO Richard Branson and partner Nik Powell, Virgin Group owns majority or partial state in subsidiaries that range from hotels to mobile to airlines: including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Australia, and Virgin Samoa.
Virgin Atlantic is the oldest of the four airlines, established in 1984 to fly passengers between London and the Falkland Islands. Its first flight took place in June of that year from London-Gatwick to Newark Liberty International Airport. Its operating bases are Gatwick, London-Heathrow, and Manchester. Virgin Atlantic is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Delta Air Lines. It has a separate administration from the other Virgin airlines. Its frequent-flyer program is the Flying Club.
Virgin Australia is the country’s second largest airline after Qantas. Founded in 1999 as Virgin Blue, it’s headquartered in Bowen Hills, Brisbane. Virgin Group retains a 25 percent share of the company after a hostile takeover in 2006 by the Australian conglomerate Patrick Corporation. Virgin Samoa is owned in partnership with Virgin Australia and the Government of Samoa. Founded in 2005 as Polynesian Blue, it changed the name in 2011. Both Virgin Australia and Virgin Samoa share the same frequent flyer program: Velocity.
Virgin America, the youngest of the Virgin airlines, began service in 2007. Headquartered in Burlingame, California, in the Bay Area, it uses San Francisco International Airport as its main hub, with additional focus cities at Los Angeles and Dallas. While it operates in partnership with the other Virgin-branded airlines as well as additional Virgin Group brands, Virgin America is a legally separate company. In fact, U.S. law limits foreign ownership of U.S. airlines to 25 percent; and Virgin Group is headquartered in London, England. Alaska Air Group announced its intention to acquire Virgin America in April 2016. Its frequent flyer program is Elevate.