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Atlantic president Richard Branson said that after British Airways, American
Airlines and Iberia received antitrust immunity for transatlantic routes, his
airline has benefitted from corporate concern about the power of the allied
In an interview with BTN
sister publication Travel Weekly,
Branson said, "Initially, we were very worried about immunity for BA-AA
and the fact that they would be able to collude on prices and work together.
What we've actually found is that the big corporations don't like it either.
They don't want them to become dominant, and we're finding that [they're
giving] 50 percent of their business to us, and 50 percent to the BA-AA
conglomerate. So we seem to be doing OK with it."
Chris Rossi, Virgin Atlantic's senior vice president for
North America, added that when BA and AA began coordinating routes last
October, Virgin Atlantic essentially moved from the number three player on the
London-New York route to the number two, leaving Virgin as a hedge against the
combined power of BA-AA.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway said, "We fought the
BA-AA alliance very hard. We thought it was wrong in terms of size and scope,
and we still believe that. But equally, I think the market's a bit frightened
by it, too, so corporations need to protect themselves and make sure they have
During a press conference to celebrate the 25th anniversary
of Virgin Atlantic's service between London and Miami, Branson also said that
the airline had been approached by "one or two" of the three airline
alliances to join them, and that they were weighing the benefits.
As to which of the alliances had approached them, Ridgway
later joked during an interview, "I think it might be difficult to get
into Oneworld," the alliance to which American and British Airways belong.
Regarding alliance membership, Ridgway was noncommittal.
"It's early days," he said. "I don't know. We're
proud of what we've achieved. If there are benefits to be had for us and for
the alliance, it may happen."
Source: Travel Weekly