Ridgway sees a future between Virgin and bmi: WAF 2008

I’ve just put this story across to the editors of Air Transport Intelligence, the sister online service of Airline Business, which some of you see but others don’t.


Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, was very open about what might happen following today’s announcement that Lufthansa is going to take majority control of bmi.


Here’s the raw copy I filed:


“The next step in the ownership saga of the UK‘s bmi could well involve Virgin Atlantic Airways following today’s announcement that Lufthansa is to gain majority control of bmi.


“You can view bmi/Virgin as one of the great undone deals in aviation,” said Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic speaking at the World Air Transport Forum conference in Paris.


“Everybody expected this was going to happen – it is no surprise,” said Ridgway. “The issue now is what does Lufthansa want to do going forward.”


Virgin has long been advocating a link up between its own long-haul services and the short and medium haul network of bmi, which would make a strong strategic fit at London Heathrow Airport.


“It would make a lot of sense,” said Ridgway, with the combined carrier providing a larger and more effective competitor to British Airways and its oneworld alliance partners.


However, there have been no formal talks between Lufthansa and Virgin on what may happen with bmi once the German carrier increases its stake, said Ridgway.


At present Virgin Atlantic is majority owned by the Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson with Lufthansa’s Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines holding a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic.


Ridgway was at the WAF conference pushing for cross-border investment barriers in air transport to be removed. “If barriers go it will speed up consolidation – and we may well be part of that,” he said.”

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