Don’t Be Fooled By Branson’s Lobbying

Though many of you thought Guido’s story about the BBC seeking to switch its revenue extraction from the television licence to a tax on broadband was an unbelieveable prank, it was not. Our story Branson Offers Necker Island as Security for Virgin Bailout was our bit of April Foolery yesterday. It took in most of you, probably because it was too close to reality. Branson is after a bailout, however as far as Guido is aware he hasn’t offered his island home as security. He’s no fool…

Virgin Atlantic has two shareholders, Delta Airlines (49%), and Virgin Group (51%) – until December it was due to be majority foreign owned until the deal with Air France – KLM fell through. Because of this, Virgin’s lobbying of Transport Minister Grant Shapps (and Chancellor Sunak) has focused on the damage the collapse of the airline would do to British manufacturing, Airbus and Rolls Royce have been persuaded to write to the ministers warning them of the knock on economic effects. Ironic, when Virgin’s fleet, according to their last annual report, is mostly manufactured by Boeing. Guido is all for a competitive airline market offering choice, however any asssistance to Virgin should come first from investors, should be in the form of repayable loans and should be international in line with the ownership. Anything less will be taking the taxpayers for fools…

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that KLM-Air France owned 31% of the firm, that deal was not finalised.

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