Richard Branson Says Alaska Air 'Castrated' Virgin America
Richard Branson has never been the type to hold his tongue when it comes to what he believes is right or wrong. And now, the British billionaire is letting the world know just how he feels about Alaska Air’s decision to shutter the Virgin America brand after it purchased the popular airline in 2016.
"The sad thing is that Virgin America has been voted best airline in the states 12 years in a row...and it's a great airline and I think people love it," Branson said while making an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.
When pressed further about the sale and if he would ever consider launching another airline in the United States, Branson hinted that it’s always a possibility. He did start Virgin America based on his dissatisfaction with every other available carrier, after all.
"I think Alaska is very foolish to just absorb it," Branson said. "Watch this space...I don't normally take these things lying down."
Sadly, Branson explained, when the takeover happened there was little he could do to either stop it or control Virgin’s fate under Alaska Air.
The British entrepreneur says he was very disappointed the takeover happened, saying there was nothing he could do to stop it.
"I wasn't allowed to have the voting shares by the American government because I had an English accent. America said you can set up and run an airline, but you can't have the voting shares," Branson said in the interview.
He further noted that the restrictions on voting shares came directly from the Department of Transportation. He added that he isn’t convinced of Alaska Air’s claim that it will continue many of the services, including inflight entertainment, mood lighting, and the music that customers of Virgin America have come to know and love. "Big companies often do this,” Branson said. “They buy something because it's doing so well, and then they castrate it.”
Here’s hoping Alaska Air keeps its promises and Branson launches something new soon, too.