Virgin Atlantic, the airline controlled by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson, is in “fairly advanced talks” to join an aviation alliance as the carrier seeks to boost its competitive position and restore earnings.
“Virgin Atlantic has always enjoyed its independence, but since pretty well every competitor that we have has an alliance I think we have finally decided that to survive we need to have an alliance,” Branson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Mumbai today. He declined to name the group the London-based airline is speaking with.
The carrier is struggling to become profitable amid a management change while confronting shifts in industry tie-ups, rising fuel prices and the global economic slowdown. Deals this month have included Qatar Airways Ltd. joining British Airways’ Oneworld alliance, Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) ending a 17-year partnership with British Airways to cooperate with Emirates, and SkyTeam alliance co-leader Air France-KLM Group (AF) forging sales links with Etihad Airways.