Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson has challenged his BA opposite number Willie Walsh to a £1m bet that the Virgin brand will remain for at least five years.
It follows Walsh’s assertion that the Virgin name could be airbrushed from its jets within that time period in the wake of a planned tie-up with Delta Airlines.
Responding to the claim Branson said he would donate £1m to BA employees if such an outcome came to pass if Walsh was prepared if Walsh was prepared to divvy out £1m to BA employees in the light that he was wrong.
The move is being interpreted by analysts as a sign that Branson sees the airline tie-up as a joint venture rather than a takeover.
Delta propose to buy a 49% stake in the airline currently held by Singapore Airlines with speculation also suggesting that they may buy part of Branson’s stake as well.
Walsh stated: “I can’t see Delta wanting to operate the Virgin brand because if they do what does that say about the Delta brand?”
This prompted Branson to retort: “This is wishful thinking and totally misguided. Will BA never learn? Let’s see how much they believe this. Let them put their money where their mouth is.”