Virgin Atlantic brand may bow out, says British Airways, Iberia chief

It may soon be the end of the road for the Virgin Atlantic brand, according to British Airways and Iberia boss Willie Walsh. The move would see Sir Richard Branson's UK carrier becoming the latest to go under as a wave of consolidation sweeps the aviation sector.

According to Walsh, the US giant Delta was likely to scrap the Virgin Atlantic name if it succeeded in acquiring Singapore Airlines' 49-per cent stake in the UK carrier.

Negotiations are expected to reach a decisive stage as early as this week.

Sir Richard's 51 per cent holding in the trans-Atlantic carrier, which he set up in 1984, would be partly bought by Delta's European partners Air France-KLM.

According to Walsh, head of International Airlines Group, Delta's main interest in Virgin would be the UK carrier's prized Heathrow take-off and landing slots.

Walsh said he could not see Delta wanting to operate the Virgin brand as the US carrier believed it was the number one airline in the world.  Instead it was likely to acquire Virgin's slots at Heathrow to enable Delta to have a strong presence at the airport.