Sun, Jul 13, 2008
Predicts "Spectacular Casualties" In Global Industry
Dire predictions about the continued existence of a number of
airlines have become de rigueur these days... with each
prognosticator amping up the doom-and-gloom. Problem is... their
predictions are probably pretty close to the mark, if not dead
Adding to the clamor this weekend was Sir Richard Branson, the
billionaire owner of Virgin Atlantic. On Saturday, Branson
predicted "spectacular casualties" in the global airline
industry... including among carriers in the United States.
"The financial state of the world is just about the worst I've
ever known it," Branson told The London Times. "It's getting
perilously close to being worse than the 1990s... You have the
perfect storm -- you've not only got the banking crisis and the
housing crisis, you've got the soaring fuel prices as well.
"One of the big American carriers will almost definitely go," he
As ANN reported, Virgin America -- an offshoot
of Branson's Virgin Group -- launched operations in the United
States last August.
Closer to home, Branson also weighed in on the 20-year ownership
of Britain's three major airports by BAA... part of Spain's
Ferrovial since 2006. Months after a series of unfortunate events,
including the bungled opening of British Airways' new
Terminal 5 at Heathrow, plagued British air travel for
several weeks, the country's Competition Commission is
investigating whether BAA is part of the problem.
It's not hard to determine Branson's opinion on the matter.
"It's been embarrassing to be British looking at foreigners queuing
up to come into the country," he said. "I certainly think that BAA
should be broken up. Each individual terminal at Heathrow should be
privatized so they can compete against each other. BAA just creams
off more and more every year."
Speaking of Heathrow, Branson also confirmed Virgin is
interested in purchasing Britain's bmi, which is due to come up for
a change of ownership in 2009. The airline controls a number of
prized landing slots at Heathrow.
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