Virgin Seeks Partner to Compete With BA

Virgin Launches New Cheap Flights to Africa

Virgin Atlantic is seeking a partner to help it compete more effectively with arch-rival British Airways, boss and founder Sir Richard Branson said yesterday.

The airline is well known for its cheap flights to the USA, Australasia and Asia, but has been squeezed in recent months by the team-up between BA, American Airlines and Iberia. The trio were given permission to work more closely on flights to the USA and Europe by the American and European authorities in October 2010, and since then have announced more frequent cheap flights to New York, Miami and Chicago from Heathrow, plus a new service offering cheap flights to San Diego, as well as promising more benefits in the future.

Yesterday, in an interview with US news agency Bloomberg, Sir Richard said that he was seeking “an alliance partner to combat the fact that British Airways is tied up with American Airlines”, adding that he believed an announcement that a partner had been found was likely in the next few months.

“I will certainly still be extremely involved in the airline, whatever we decide to do, and I will still be a major shareholder. We are in discussions with various people and will see what comes out of it,” he explained.

Names which are currently being tipped as potential “alliance partners” for Virgin Atlantic include Air France and Delta Air Lines. Both airlines are members of the SkyTeam group.

Sir Richard gave the interview in San Francisco, where he was visiting to attend the opening of a new terminal for cheap flights carrier Virgin America, in which the tycoon as a minority stake.

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