Airline giant Air France-KLM has bought a stake in Virgin Atlantic equal to around a third of the company.
The 31% stake, worth £220m GBP, leaves founder Sir Richard Branson Virgin Group with a minority holding of just 20%. Delta Airlines now holds the majority share of 49%.
In an open letter to the group, Sir Richard chose to point out that, despite the best efforts of British Airways and Willie Walsh, the brand was a well-respected airline. He said:
“Willie Walsh predicted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would disappear within five years as a result. Whether childishly or bravely, he also said he’d accept a knee in the groin from me if it didn’t. Well Willie, that five year point is up this December. And Virgin Atlantic is still flying strong! Delta has helped us considerably with feed from America, but because we don’t have more slots at Heathrow or
Delta has helped us considerably with feed from America, but because we don’t have more slots at Heathrow or Gatwick we’re unable to enjoy feed from Europe or provide extra onward journeys for those customers we are now carrying to London. To address this we’ve been in discussions with Delta’s partners in Europe, Air France and KLM, to give us that network and connections.”
The move will see passengers transiting seamlessly across the network through out the world on airlines including Delta, Air France, KLM, Alitalia and Virgin Atlantic. It also provides a boost to Virgin Atlantic connections into Europe, something the airline found hard to break into due to congestion at London Heathrow.
Jean-Marc Janaillac, CEO, Air France KLM, said: “With our partners Delta and Virgin Atlantic, we are pleased to reinforce our transatlantic partnership, offering our customers, even more, choice between Europe, UK and the United States via twelve hubs on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Craig Kreeger, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said: “We built the Virgin Atlantic brand by providing customers with the choice they deserve and a travel experience they love. We couldn’t be more excited that the next stage of our growth will be at the heart of the strongest partnership for customers travelling between Europe and North America. Together with our friends at Air France-KLM and Delta we will build on this vision of our teams creating irresistible experiences for customers flying on our network.”