Well it appears the global travel industry consolidation craze now has Virgin Atlantic Airways pondering a move. Virgin is finally seeking to join a global airline alliance (such as SkyTeam, oneworld, or Star Alliance), in order to strengthen its position and set pace for growth as international business travel upticks. The Sunday Times reported that Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways recently posed interest in buying Virgin. But that is not going to happen according to founder and current 51% stakeholder, Richard Branson.
Considering an alliance agreement is formed, what impact will this have on the Virgin Atlantic brand? I feel the brand is so strong independently that joining an alliance would only expose more fliers to the brand and fuel the powerhouse it is today. Virgin Atlantic’s three classes of service continue to be highly regarded as the smart and sexy way to travel across the North Atlantic. No revenue sharing agreement alone will dilute the brand or defer travelers to other carriers.
Turning to Branson himself, he is comparable to Steve Jobs of Apple in that he is the face of the airline. Putting the rock star and glam behind the brand, Branson makes a media splash at every opportunity to gain attention to Virgin and showcase how “cool” the products are. I think he will turn any alliance agreement into a wild red carpet event. And why not?!
So go ahead Virgin Atlantic, mate! As long as you keep the in-flight bars, gorgeous cabin crew, and stellar service that is synonymous with the brand. A sample of their latest ad campaign…