Richard Branson ready to support Virgin Australia’s new owners

The Brit billionaire' has had discussions with all the bidders vying to take control of Virgin Australia.

By David Flynn, June 1 2020
Richard Branson ready to support Virgin Australia’s new owners

Richard Branson is expected to move from bystander to backer as Virgin Australia's administration process picks up pace this week.

The Brit billionaire and 'brand godfather' is considered likely to align himself with the eventual owner of the failed airline or indicate support for both the final two shortlisted bidders, ahead of the winner being declared by Virgin Australia administrator Deloitte by month's end.

Branson's Virgin Group has connections with two lead bidders – New York's Cyrus Capital, which was a cornerstone investor in the launch of Virgin America, and Bain Capital, which is the majority owner of the new Virgin Voyages cruise line.

However, as reported by The Financial Review, a Virgin Group spokesperson says it has had "productive discussions with [all] the bidders."

"Our intention is to work with administrators and the management team, along with investors and government, to ensure that Australia maintains two airlines," Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss noted when Virgin Australia fell into administration in late April.

Branson was previously been said to have been good for as much as a $250m assist to the airline, which could come as part of a self-funded rescue package for his aviation and travel empire – including raising $750 million through selling a chunk of his stake in the Virgin Galactic space tourism venture.

However, the billion-dollar bailout would be distributed among ventures such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin Voyages cruise line.

Although Branson's 10% stake in Virgin Australia will be wiped out during the administration process, his support for the airline could be mounted in several ways.

One might be an cash injection as part of the winning bid - which is estimated to be in the vicinity of $4 billion – to help recapitalise the airline into the streamlined Virgin 2.0.

Another would be to immediately advance some much-needed 'emergency' money to bolster Virgin's current cash at hand, which will run out this month – well before the new buyer's plan it put to creditors for approval (or not) – and could tip the grounded airline into liquidation.

Branson is also likely to drop or very deeply discount his brand franchising fee, said to be vicinity of $15 million per year, at least over the next few years until the airline is back on its feet and back in the air.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

you'd think his brand franchising fee, would have to be almost zero for quite a number of years or until airline got back into profit.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 147

Yep the article mentions this.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 84

Brand godfather haha! Who come up with this stuff??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1204

David Flynn, apparently.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 180

Nowhere has the administrator stated Virgins cash will run out this month, it's media speculation. Comments from the administrator recently have been the cash balance has improved from the quoted $100m and the cash burn rate has decreased. They are doing all the right things to pull the group out of administration quickly and in top financial shape within the window COVID allowed. I think the pace is for a commercial advantage to relaunch in July post domestic COVID flight restrictions rather than any cash restriction.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 437

Virgin Group should be paying VA for advertising the brand. I don't think the Virgin brand brings a lot of value to the airline when it is so well known that Virgin have had little influence over the airline's operation and strategy for almost a decade. A new owner would do well to assess their customers' brand affinity. For me, VA is the airline that competes with Qantas and it could have any other name.

04 Apr 2020

Total posts 3

I agree. There is no brand value in the Virgin name in Australia, I mean what does the brand represent? It started as Best & Less and now parades as Myer. Richard Branson is a whiny, egotistical and sexists Brit, only slightly more polished than America's Donald Trump.

08 May 2020

Total posts 39

Supporting VA 2 depends on how it presents it to their Previous Customers. As a V-Platinum member for 9 years it will be hard to take if the benefits are lost. I did enjoy the early years of Virgin Blue in the afterlife of Ansett Airline on which I have lost previous benefits unfortunately. I Never had much enthusiasm on Qantas. Cyrus appear on rumors the best fit and hope that with some magic Richard Branson can assist in that good outcome.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 34

Well said, @pete sw. You virtually summed up my own experience and expectations: am also a V-Plat, and I very much enjoyed the LCC years of Virgin Blue too, equally I've always regarded QF as a good airline although for some weird inexplicable reason I could never summon much enthusiasm for them (at least from the 00s onwards). Regardless, it seems all but certain that an airline will emerge out this voluntary process (the sheer interest alone from investors guarantees that). Whether it retains a 'Virgin' touch remains to be seen. I certainly hope so.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 240

This is great news. One homes it could link up to other Virgin airlines that are left... Perhaps Perth to London?

26 May 2016

Total posts 6

I'd like to see this contingent on the level of involvement from Singapore airlines and Etihad airways post administration, virgin Atlantic A350 would give qantas 787 a run for their money in this route.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 211

As much as the fanboys & airplane buffs would love to see "any" Virgin branded flight between PER-LHR, chances of that would be very close to zero.

VS are also on the brink of filing the UK equivalent of Voluntary Administration themselves.

SQ and EY's involvement in a VA mk2 will not likely go past a codeshare and/or FF agreement. Those 2 will shortly no longer be VA shareholders (by name) regardless if either the administration secures a buyer or whether VA ends up filing liquidation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 147

@DanV - no need to attack the virgin dreamers - I agreed with you but then thought chances are more people will be wanting to fly direct especially if travel bubbles are to be set up from point to point. Virgin Atlantic have the aircraft and may focus more on strategic business routes rather then leisure for forseeable future. Wouldn't say never or close to 0 chance... unpredictable times call for unpredictable measures.

I for one don't know why BA or any of the Virgins haven't latched onto the success of Qantas PER to LHR flights. From what I read in newspaper business class is always full, economy is sold at a premium and above an 80% load for most flights. Seems highly in demand route and all airlines have strategic partners at each end to feed into.


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