Virgin Atlantic boss dismisses EC concerns over Delta stake

Virgin Atlantic boss dismisses EC concerns over Delta stake

The boss of Virgin Atlantic has dismissed as “rubbish” European Commission concerns that Delta Air Lines controls the UK carrier.

Chief executive Craig Kreeger said he was certain that investigators would find nothing wrong with the way the business is managed following the acquisition of a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic by the US airline last June.

The European Commission said earlier this month it had launched an inquiry into the large stakes held in four European airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, by non-EU carriers amid concerns they could amount to “effective control”.

EU law prohibits a company based outside the 28-member bloc from owning more than 49.9% of an airline, in line with similar restrictions on “foreign” ownership of carriers in place around the world.

But Kreeger told the Financial Times that Virgin Atlantic had already “passed through those hurdles” with the UK authorities when its joint venture with Delta on transatlantic routes was approved last year.

He said he had gone back to check with the UK regulator since the commission announced the probe and was satisfied the company’s governance would pass muster.

Asked about the concerns in Brussels that Virgin Atlantic was now controlled by Delta, he replied: “That is rubbish.”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group owns 51% of the company and appoints four of the nine board directors. Delta appoints three, while the two others are from Virgin Atlantic’s management, including Kreeger.

Kreeger’s comments came as he revealed that Virgin Atlantic, which includes Virgin Holidays, was on track to break even this year.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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