Speed Reads


Richard Branson says he feels 'sadness' about the Virgin America-Alaska merger

In a post online, Virgin founder Richard Branson shared his thoughts on the $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Air, writing that he would be "lying if I didn't admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another."

Consolidation is a "trend that sadly cannot be stopped," Branson said, and because he's not American, the U.S. Department of Transportation "stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it." In the United States, only 25 percent of a U.S.-based airline can be owned by a foreign entity or non-U.S. citizen, Business Insider reports; Branson is British.

Branson also wrote about the history of Virgin and how Virgin America was started "out of frustration." Before Virgin America began service in August 2007, airlines were "more focused on the bottom line," he said, "and flying in the United States became an awful experience." Branson praised the Virgin America team, declaring that "without the radical belief that they could create an airline people actually love, the U.S. airline industry might not be where it is today," and ended his post on a hopeful note, writing, "despite the turbulence and head winds, the journey remains thrilling and joyful, and I look forward to more future flights with Virgin America."