Belfast Telegraph

Virgin America airline brand set to be retired in 2019

After months of speculation, Alaska Airlines has bad news for loyal customers of US internal service Virgin America - the airline's name is being dumped.

Alaska said it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019.

Virgin America joins Northwest, US Airways, Continental and many others on the scrap heap of airline brands.

With its hip vibe including mood lighting, orders of food and drinks from seat-back screens, and a staff of young, attractive flight attendants, Virgin America stood out from traditional competitors.

After Alaska bought Virgin America last year for 2.6 billion dollars (£2 billion), its CEO held out hope of keeping the name alive.

But running an airline within an airline adds complexity and costs, so many in the business are unsurprised by Alaska's decision.

In a statement posted online, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said: "With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all.

"We went through a lot together. And you were worth every minute, every penny (there were many), every battle. We earned every loyal guest and fan. Every market was hard-won.

"You would not believe the number of people who tell me how much they love flying Virgin America. Keep expecting - and demanding - more from your airlines.

"If you miss flying Virgin America, you still have your beautiful sisters; Virgin Atlantic is starting services from London to Seattle next week, and Virgin Australia is starting direct services from Melbourne to Hong Kong the week after that.

"Virgin flies on."

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