Of all the travel business problems out there due to coronavirus, one I’m admittedly paying a lot of attention to is Virgin Atlantic. I couldn’t even tell you exactly why, short of, well, sue me but I just like Richard Branson and the products he has in Virgin Group. We’ve been on Virgin Atlantic flights more than once, loved Virgin America when it was around, were frequent visitors to Virgin Records when that chain was around, really enjoyed our ride on the Virgin Train, and we’re looking forward to a Virgin Voyage this July but, well, you know, #coronacrapola. Plus, DUDE, Virgin Galactic! Branson’s willing to boldly go where no man has gone before (so to speak) and has the means to do it. Plus, when he does something, it’s generally a decent product. So yeah, I’m a fan.
So the whole “Virgin Atlantic could go under” saga is something I’ve been watching. Not just because I like Virgin products, but without them around, the only UK-based airline that’d go between the U.S. and the U.S. would be British Airways. Meh.
But now the Virgin saga is going one step further.
If you haven’t been following, Virgin Atlantic, like every airline out there, is in financial straights because no one is flying right now. Branson had asked for a government bailout from the U.K. but they didn’t seem to be too thrilled with the idea. There were other reasons, but the “no” answer was partially because 49% of the airline is owned by Delta Air Lines, a U.S. company (and they can’t help them because they have their own financial problems right now), as well as because Branson lives on an island in the British Virgin Islands and therefore pays no U.K. taxes (Diane Abbot, MP even said, “Branson has not paid tax in this country for 14 years. On no account should he get a taxpayer bailout, loan or otherwise.” Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic and all the other companies in the Virgin Group do pay U.K. taxes???) So the U.K. essentially said, “See if you can get any other loans and if you can’t, come back and we’ll see what we can do.”
Well, he couldn’t, and so he has.
It appears that Richard Branson, who has a personal worth of an estimated $4.4 billion, would now be willing to put up his private island, Necker Island, as well as other assets, as collateral for a commercial loan (not a UK taxpayer-supported government bailout) to save Virgin Atlantic.
From The Guardian:
“He and the team at Virgin Group will use the resources available to them which could even include raising money against Necker,” his spokesperson said. “He does not state that Necker Island would be used as collateral against any potential government support Virgin Atlantic may receive.”
So now I guess we’ll see what the U.K. government says next.
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary