Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson stated he remains in talks with “as many as three” potential suitors for Virgin Atlantic and that he is likely to make a decision on a partnership “within the next two or three months” (Bloomberg, 26-May-2011). “I’ve always made clear that I would still be very much involved,” Sir Richard said. “My principal interest is in the alliance. If it means selling shares, we’ll consider that.” Sir Richard said Singapore Airlines remains “undecided” on whether it will sell its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic in talks with three suitors: Branson
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China-UK air service agreement permits growth as Chinese airlines constrained in most other markets
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.