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Following the announcement of Virgin Group’s decision to sell 31% of Virgin Atlantic Airways to Air France-KLM, company founder Sir Richard Branson wrote a heart felt-letter to Virgin Atlantic’s employees – reassuring them that the deal is meant to put the airline in a position for future success.
“As I get a little older, I want to be certain that all the necessary building blocks are in place for Virgin Atlantic to continue to prosper and grow for the next 50 years,” Branson wrote.
“The airline industry has consolidated over Virgin Atlantic’s lifetime and it’s now our turn to put ourselves at the heart of an important alliance, to create a stronger customer champion and build an airline which provides great opportunities for our team around the world.”
“With these three partners in place and with me – and one day, the wider Branson family – still very much involved, we have the foundations to make sure this is so,” the billionaire added.
In addition, Branson reminded IAG CEO Willie Walsh that he’s ready to collect on their bet. In 2012, Branson and Walsh bet that if Virgin Atlantic was still around in five years, the winner would get to knee the loser in the groin. Walsh, whose company owns rival British Airways amongst others, predicted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would disappear within five years after its joint venture with Delta.
“Willie Walsh predicted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would disappear within five years as a result,” Branson wrote. “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!”