Rivals eye up Virgin Atlantic

Marion Dakers
RICHARD Branson’s Virgin Atlantic could fall into American hands after several rivals including US-based Delta approached the company about a merger or tie-in deal.

A handful of airlines have made enquiries about an eventual partnership with the carrier, according to Sky News, and Virgin has asked Deutsche Bank to help examine its options.
Virgin Atlantic reportedly said there is no formal process underway to team up with other airlines.

Virgin and Delta did not return calls for comment last night.

Branson mentioned earlier this year that he was considering merging Virgin Atlantic with other carriers to keep up with rivals as the market continues to consolidate.

Singapore Airlines, which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic, has been seeking a suitable buyer for its stake for several years.

British Airways and Iberia cleared their £5bn merger last month, raising hopes that other large partnerships could be cleared by competition regulators in the future.

Virgin Atlantic posted a pre-tax operating loss for the period March 2009 to February 2010 of £132m.