The Virgin Group’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, says “many tears” are being shed over Alaska Airlines’ decision to retire the Virgin America brand in the wake of its $4 billion acquisition.
Branson bid farewell to the brand in a “Dear Virgin America” letter posted online today, even though the brand isn’t likely to be phased out until 2019.
He compared the news of the phase-out to his 1992 sale of Virgin Records for $1 billion, “which we needed to fight off British Airways’ Dirty Tricks campaign to try to put Virgin Atlantic out of business.
“With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all,” Branson said. Most of the letter was devoted to a walk down memory lane, from the company’s launch day in 2007, through zany promotions such as an in-flight wedding performed by Branson, an in-flight Skype session with Oprah Winfrey and the annual Chihuahua airlift.