At a travel conference this weekend, Sir Richard Branson continued to tell industry insiders that Alaska will need to pay him licensing fees through 2040, even with Alaska’s plans to drop the Virgin brand. He told the same story when he was in Seattle last month to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to the city.
“When I sat down with Alaska, I genuinely believed that they would treasure the brand, that they would treasure the people, that they would treasure the product and that they knew what they were buying. They spent $2.6 billion buying it. And that the last thing they would do would be to rip the heart out of it, which seems effectively like what they decided to do. It just seems such a waste.”
According to security filings, Virgin America paid a fee to the Virgin holding company equal to 0.7% of the airline’s total revenue for 2016, just north of $10M last year.
The Puget Sound Journal comments on the hypocrisy of Branson’s complaining.
In 1997, Virgin Group acquired the low fare carrier Euro Belgium Airlines for $60 million and promptly dropped the name in favor of Virgin Express. Virgin Express lasted only nine years; it ceased operations in 2006 when it was sold and merged into the new Brussels Airlines.