British billionaire Sir Richard Branson is set to receive a £550m windfall from the sale of Virgin America to Alaska Air.
Branson’s US budget airline, which launched in 2007, has been sold for a whopping $2.6bn with the Seattle-based buyer agreeing to pay $57 per share.
The deal is set to make Alaska Air, which currently has a market cap of $10.2bn, the fifth largest US airline. The airline operates flights in the US, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 4, 2016
In a blog post about the sale, Sir Richard said: The brand’s mission attracted truly exceptional people who refused to create a boring airline. That took a lot of hard work and commitment from Virgin America’s teammates.
“I have learned about brilliant customer service through their training program, made surprise visits to their headquarters, asked Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport to let our teammates play music again in our check-in area, and have participated in nearly every single route launch. I have jumped off a Vegas hotel on a very windy afternoon, lassoed Texas Longhorn cattle on a tarmac to launch Dallas flights, walked barefoot with a surfboard through SFO’s Terminal 2 to celebrate service to Hawaii, and talked with countless fans and media through live interviews powered by their reliable onboard WiFi – all because of my belief that the Virgin brand can make flying fun again and my belief in the vision and strong values of the airline and its team.
“Despite the turbulence and head winds, the journey remains thrilling and joyful, and I look forward to more future flights with Virgin America. Thank you for choosing Virgin America!”