Sir Richard Branson says that Virgin Atlantic's Australian operations were costing the company some $10 million per year, but hopes his airline will one day return to Australian skies.
Until then, the brash British billionaire says his trips to Australia will leave him no choice but to fly on arch-competitors BA or Qantas with a bag over his head.
"I love going to Australia and the idea of having to go on Qantas or British Airways is going to be very, very painful" he said. "But hopefully we'll be back one day."
“We have a great Virgin Australian airline when you get there, which has got 35 percent of the market, so we're just going to have a bag over our heads for that one leg from Hong Kong onwards [from London], sadly, in the future" Branson told Arabian Business during a weekend visit to Dubai.
“I suspect we carried on going too long [on the Sydney-Hong Kong route] and that's always a danger in business, you hope that next year will be better than the previous year" Branson admitted.
Independents good, alliances bad
Branson also took a swing at the formation of alliances between major carriers, including the Qantas-Emirates partnership, saying they stifle competition and could inevitably lead to increased prices.
Governments should have prevented hook-ups such as Qantas and Emirates, as well as British Airways and American Airlines.
Branson explained it was the eventual approval of BA-AA partnership in 2010 by "a weak regulator" which "forced" an alliance between Virgin Atlantic and US carrier Delta.
“That then caused us to go along to Delta and say 'we need a big brother now',” Branson said.
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