Virgin Atlantic’s owners have put the airline up for sale as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to trouble the struggling airline.
The business has been unable to secure a £500 million bailout from the UK government and as that option becomes less and less likely, it is now looking to new options such as attracting new investors to keep the airline afloat.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has hired the investment bank Houlihan Lokey to try to find investors willing to inject emergency funding into the transatlantic airline to avert its collapse into administration.
“Because of significant costs to our business caused by unprecedented market conditions which the COVID-19 crisis has brought with it, we are exploring all available options to obtain additional external funding … Meanwhile, we continue to take decisive action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and protect jobs … Virgin Atlantic is committed to continuing to provide essential connectivity on competitive terms to consumers and businesses in Britain and beyond, once we emerge from this crisis,” said a VA spokesperson to Simple Flying.
It will take reportedly 100 private financial investors to save the airline and it is suggested these companies would form a consortium to fund the airline throughout the pandemic and beyond, leaving Sir Richard without a stake.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has accused Branson of attempting to ‘fleece’ the tax paying public by pleading for government assistance beyond the current scheme offered to most airlines.
O’Leary speaking on Sky’s Ian King Show said, “Now you have Virgin Atlantic owned by Delta and a Caribbean island-based, non-resident billionaire. Frankly, if he’s worried about Virgin, he should write the cheque himself. It’s not like he’s short of money.”
He also called out German national flag carrier Lufthansa by comparing the sizeable German airline to a “crack cocaine junkie” after they asked the federal government for an £8.7 billion loan to help them with the coronavirus crisis.
Sir Richard continues to be highly criticised for his current requests for money despite being a multi-billionaire as well as his avoidance of UK income tax through his residence status in the Caribbean.