Sir Richard Branson has created his own turbulence at Virgin

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Airlines, Aviation & Airports (General News), Gatwick, Heathrow
Tags: , , ,

Emergency landings aside, it’s not Gatwick but Heathrow that’s giving Sir   Richard Branson such a pain in his undercarriage.

The Virgin king's got all revved up over how air traffic control in Brussels has simply "waved through" the takeover of bmi by British Airways

The Virgin king's got all revved up over how air traffic control in Brussels has simply "waved through" the takeover of bmi by British Airways

The Virgin king’s got all revved up over how air traffic control in Brussels has simply “waved through” the takeover of bmi by British   Airways-owner International Airlines Group.

He’s spitting decibels that the deal lifts BA’s share of Heathrow’s take-off  and landing slots from 45pc to 51pc, dwarfing lil’ ol’ Virgin Atlantic’s   3pc.

True, IAG now has a big chunk of a congested airport. But Branson’s only got himself to blame for that. Over the past decade, he’s had enough flypasts at   bmi to stop what’s just happened. But he’s refused to put his money where   his mouth is.

Taxi back to 2003 and you find Branson in merger talks with bmi’s then owner Sir Michael Bishop (now Baron Glendonbrook). The idea was to put Virgin’s long-haul business together with the largely short-haul Bmi – the then owner   of 14pc of Heathrow slots – to create a proper competitor to BA.

Those talks barely got airborne before the pair decided that not only didn’t they trust each other’s accounts, they pretty much couldn’t stand the sight   of one another either. Undeterred, Branson was still banging on to this   newspaper four years later that: “It has to make sense for the two   companies to work together. All the employees of Virgin Atlantic and bmi  would love to see it happen.”

Although always hard to tell with Virgin, Branson should have had the cash to  deal, having already taken £600m out of his carrier by somehow cajoling   Singapore Airlines to stump up for a 49pc stake. That was an aviation deal   only rivalled in its chutzpah by Bishop, who skewered Lufthansa into paying   £223m in 2009 for his majority holding in the loss-making bmi.

Bishop’s sale presented Virgin with a fresh opportunity to grab bmi and its  slots. Indeed, Lufthansa gave Virgin first run at it – before the German   carrier got bored waiting for Branson to produce anything resembling the   readies, and turned to BA….

Read the full story at The Daiky Telegraph……


Alistair Osborne

By 
16 Apr 2012


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