DALLAS -- Sir Richard Branson said the Virgin America brand will live on and become another airline, if Alaska Airlines phases out the “Virgin” name after its merger is complete later this year.
“I hope the Virgin America brand never goes away,” Branson told WFAA at an event in Dallas Monday night. “If Alaska decides to drop the brand – because we didn’t actually want the sale to happen – we’ll start again and Virgin America will very much back here.”
When pressed to clarify the future of the brand, Branson added: “If the sale goes through with Alaska and they don’t keep the brand, we’ll be starting again. Yeah.”
In April, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines agreed to purchase Virgin America for $2.6 billion.
Alaska’s website lists the merged airline’s new name as “Alaska Airlines.”
But in June, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said he was still considering what to do with the Virgin brand, according to the Associated Press. Alaska clearly wants to retain Virgin’s customers and culture, but has yet to figure out whether to bring it under one operation, since the amenities of each carrier are quite different.
Besides a low-cost airline, Virgin America has become a favorite among travelers for in-seat entertainment in all cabins, a relaxed atmosphere, and its purple mood lighting.
When the Wright Amendment ended, Virgin America fought to move from DFW Airport to Love Field, where it now offers direct flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Alaska’s merger with Virgin was supposed to happen before Sept. 30, but both airlines agreed to delay it so the U.S. Department of Justice could investigate whether anticompetitive concerns exist.