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Will Branson Buy Or Build A US LCC?  
User currently offlineGrrtvc From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 311 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 2919 times:

I keep hearing and reading that Branson wants to startup a US LCC. If I remember correctly he wanted to be a part of jetBlue but couldn't because he wanted more ownership than US law would allow.

So this begs the question... would Branson buy a LCC and maybe rename it or will he still try and start an LCC from the ground up? I think jetBlue would be a logical first choice but would cost to much to buy. SW I think is too established but has the B737. AirTran would be cheaper to buy than jetBlue but the B717 may be an unattractive fit with Branson's B737's. Then there's always Frontier.

Any thoughts???

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 1, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2883 times:


There's nothing to buy.


User currently offlineCkfred From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 5876 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2852 times:

Branson has said that the US could support another LCC. But he has two problems.

First, there is the foreign ownership limit. He can only own 49% of a US carrier, and he can only have 25% voting power. Since Branson doesn't like the problems of being a publicly-traded business, he would have to find a US partner willing to buy into his venture.

The second problem is that he has to find a city that could operate as a hub. It shouldn't have a legacy carrier operating a hub, and yet, it must have enough O&D traffic to keep the airline afloat until it has enough routes. The two largest cities that come to mind are STL and MCI, but Vanguard couldn't make a go of it in MCI. AA is shrinking its hub at STL. In either case, he would have to go up against Southwest.

One possibility is CLE. There has been a rumor for years that CO is on the verge of closing its hub there. If Branson came in with an airline that provided more frills than Southwest (more legroom, meals, the on-board masseuse) that could drive CO out, yet not get into an all-out fare war with Southwest.

User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 3, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2830 times:

There's a zero percent change it'll have the on-board massuese.

Does DJ have onboard masseurs?


User currently offlineShenzhen From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 1722 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2813 times:

Tom McGhie, Mail on Sunday
21 September 2003

IR Richard Branson is planning a low-cost airline for American business travellers. He has set up a top-level team in New York headed by his legal adviser, Frances Farrow. The team has been told Branson wants to launch the service early next year on the East Coast.

Negotiations are taking place with Boeing and Airbus to buy eight planes.

The Virgin boss is sounding out partners because American law allows him to own only 49% of an airline. He intends to use some of the proceeds from the float of Virgin Blue in Australia, expected early next year, to fund the new operation. Branson reckons it will cost £100 million.

Though low-cost, it will not be a no-frills service, so avoiding competition with airlines such as South West. But Branson intends to use his experience of running airlines in Europe and Australia to keep his spending down.

The plan is to start the operation from scratch, but Branson would consider joining forces with an existing airline if it had slots available.

His spokesman said: 'It is much easier to start with your own airline than buy an existing service with all its debts and agreements.'

User currently offlineJetblast737 From Australia, joined Sep 2003, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2785 times:

There is no onboard masseurs on DJ (Virgin Blue) although there are masseurs in the Blue Room which are located in SYD and BNE terminals.I think the idea of a startup is more likely due to the success he has had with Virgin Blue.

jetblast737  Smile

User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2749 times:

Wait a second? Am I reading the posted article correctly? Branson is planning a low cost, high fares airline for business people?

Sure, it'll maximize profits, but..... if it were that easy, wouldn't everyone do it? Pay little, earn much?



User currently offlineAmmunition From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2002, 1065 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2710 times:

that article sounds like a load of bo!!ocks! or a very $hit piece of journalism!

Saint Augustine- 'The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only 1 page'
User currently offlinePER744 From Australia, joined Mar 2003, 405 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 2687 times:

Onboard masseuse on DJ? I'd settle for free water.

User currently offlineBehramjee From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 5354 posts, RR: 47
Reply 9, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 2682 times:

Branson is starting his own LCC in USA with part ownership. Expect it to be launched with B 737-700s or -800s and not A 320s!

Initially 10-15 aircraft will be bought for the venture. He is going to be using the same successful formula that he and his team used for VIRGIN BLUE in Australia. As for hubs, there are numerous cities in contention but no rumors have surfaced at all as to which city's airport is prefered. All is known is that an East coast city is prefered so we have competition between BOS-PHL-BWI-JFK. Undoubtedly, Florida will be a key market as will California and Vegas so lets see how successful BRANSON makes this out to be.

I just hope that he has leather seats if its going to be B 737NGs or A 320s with a seat pitch of at least 32 inches minimum.

User currently offlinePSU.DTW.SCE From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 8141 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2547 times:

Gee, like these markets aren't already saturated......

User currently offlinePVD757 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3476 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2519 times:

I heard a rumor from a furloughed pilot from ACA that they were talking to Virgin about a code-share depending on what finally happens with the United deal. That would be very interesting to say the least.

User currently offlineMicstatic From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 850 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2488 times:

Maybe possibly PIT since it seems likely that US will part


User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8656 posts, RR: 53
Reply 13, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2460 times:

He'll definitely build, not buy.

I don't agree that there's nothing on the market, there's still a few small airlines left in the US - Southeast (I presume they're still among the living) in Florida could be grown into an east coast NE-FL player; except that Virgin Express in Europe had a previous incarnation as an unprofitable Belgian regional airline and Branson regards it as his worst business move ever.

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16525 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (12 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2440 times:

There seems to be an unlimited (for now) demand for LCC's in the US, so he could be very successful, very quickly. The Virgin brand is already well known in the US.

He could choose PIT as the base (by exploiting the US pullback), CLE (as mentioned), BNA (central, abandoned AA hub), RDU (AA, Midway abandoned hubs), or any number of other cities.

As for launch type, he could start with the 733/734 to keep costs down.

I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
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