The Sage of Necker Island nails it

We have said several times that the proposal by IAG to buy Aer Lingus makes perfect sense for all parties. It is certainly the best available option for the Irish government to ensure the stability and growth of Aer Lingus and its employees. The idea that IAG just wanted Aer Lingus for its Heathrow slots was silly because part of the appeal for the company was the opportunity to carry large numbers of passengers to and from Ireland via its hubs – and they could not do that if that stopped flying to Ireland. Anyway, the Irish government has now agreed to sell its shares so that leaves IAG the job of doing a deal with the two minority shareholders, Ryanair and Etihad, who will have to decide whether they want cash or would prefer to remain passive investors.

Whilst logic pointed to the deal being good for all parties, anyone unconvinced only had to read a letter Richard Branson wrote to the Irish government asking them not to sell because, according to him, such a sale “would not be in the public interest”.

You can guarantee that whenever old Beardie uses that phrase, he means “not in the interest of Virgin”. He trots out the same old phrase every time he thinks the Virgin group’s franchise fees might be hit. In fact, on this occasion, it is quite hard to see Virgin Atlantic losing much, if anything from the deal – though that, of course is beside the point because in the Branson universe, any move by British Airways or its parent, is bound to be “against the public interest”.

Anyone who still had not made up their mind by this stage would surely have been swayed by another letter from that well known philanthropist, Donald Trump. Even he joined in the bandwagon by saying a sale would “not be in the public interest” because he was worried about the provision of air services for golfers at a new course he was developing. No doubt if golfers come to play in sufficient numbers at the new course, IAG will be only too delighted to fly them in.

With both Branson and Trump against the deal, IAG must have known the sale was as good as done.

Why isn’t Virgin flying England to the World Cup?

Last December the press were full of the story that British Airways had supposedly declined to take the England football team to the World Cup in Brazil. The airline claimed they did not have an aircraft available for the length of time required. I imagine the FA wanted the aircraft providing for next to nothing on the basis of the wonderful publicity it would offer and BA did not feel it was worth it.

Of course, when BA do something like this, you can rely on Richard Branson to step forward. “We would be proud to fly the England squad to the World Cup”, he told the London Evening Standard.

So why will the English team be travelling to Brazil on a rather old Boeing 767 from a small foreign charter airline? It is hard to imagine the FA declining Virgin’s kind offer, especially when they are obviously having to pay the full commercial rate for the aircraft they are using.

It is easy to make brash statements, months ahead and hope no one remembers.