The Virgin Atlantic brand will disappear from the skies if Delta succeeds with its bid for Sir Richard Branson's airline, British Airways boss Willie Walsh claimed in the latest in a long line of verbal spars between the two aviation bosses.
Delta, the second-biggest United States airline, is interested in buying Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in Virgin, as the Asian airline tries to move its focus from the crowded European market to South-east Asia and Australia.
"I can't see how an airline like [Delta] would need to keep a second brand like Virgin in its stable," Mr Walsh said. He also predicted Sir Richard would sell out of Virgin if Delta did successfully bid.
To bid for Virgin successfully, Delta would have to invest alongside Air France-KLM, its European partner, due to European Union aviation rules. Sir Richard is reported to be in final negotiations to cede control to the consortium with the chance that a deal could be agreed as soon as later this week.
Mr Walsh admitted: "I've never had anything nice to say about [Sir Richard] so I'm not going to have anything nice to say now."
Mr Walsh and Sir Richard have been sniping at each other for over a decade. In April the Irishman launched an attack on his rival, branding his opinions "irrelevant" and saying he had no admiration for the entrepreneur after Virgin appealed against the European competition regulator's approval of the takeover of BMI by IAG.
The pair's feud kicked off in 2006, when a tip-off from Virgin led to authorities investigating British Airways for alleged price-fixing. Virgin escaped without penalty for blowing the whistle, while BA was fined £271.5m.