Alaska Airlines purchased Virgin Airlines for $2.6 billion in 2016 and now plans to drop the Virgin America brand in 2019.
The Hollywood Reporter says Alaska Airlines “plans to keep much of the “flair” of Virgin flights, such as free in-flight entertainment and mood lighting,” but the brand itself will disappear.
Virgin founder and billionaire Richard Branson blogged about Alaska Airlines’ decision, saying:
With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all. Many years ago, I shed tears over selling my beloved Virgin Records for $1 billion, which we needed to fight off British Airways’ Dirty Tricks campaign to try to put Virgin Atlantic out of business. Many tears are shed today, this time over Alaska Airlines’ decision to buy and now retire Virgin America.
It has a very different business model and sadly, it could not find a way to maintain its own brand and that of Virgin America.
Branson also used the blog to wax nostalgic about the launch of Virgin:
Remember that time from 2004 to 2007 when we leased planes that were sitting on the runway while we waited for the US government to give us a license so that we could make flying good again? Remember the naysayers who said you could not create an experience-driven airline in the US and survive? Remember launch day – August 8th, 2007 – when even an epic tornado didn’t stop our brilliant team getting our first flight an on-time departure?
Remember that time in 2014 when Dallas residents signed a petition to make sure city council members did the right thing and gave us two gates at Dallas Love Field? And the party we threw to thank Dallas for letting us fly? The legacy airlines kept trying to stop us flying. But we won over people in Newark, Chicago and Boston in similar fashion. We grew to more than 25 cities, swept every single major consumer travel award and became profitable. Even if the industry ‘experts’ did not, you and your guests always believed that an airline can stay in business by delivering a better flying experience.
To employees who transferred to Alaska Airlines after the Virgin purchase, Branson wrote:
I know that you will continue to do great things, whether you stay on with Alaska or pursue a different path. Build a business that puts its people first. Work with partners who share your same progressive and inclusive values. Focus on delivering a great customer experience, and success will come. Make business a force for good. Stay positive; attitude is everything.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.