He kept a low profile while Virgin America was being forced to beg for the right to do business, but now CEO Fred Reid is happy to talk. There’s a short but educational interview in Fast Company. Reid is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s not certainly not given to obfuscation – particularly since he has to step down in February next year as part of the humiliating conditions forced on VA by the US Government. I believe him when he says this about his relationship with Richard Branson: “I’ve had no business input from Richard at all. He’s the creator, a man of vision, but he and I have never discussed the mechanics of the business–ever. I said, “Look, I understand the Virgin brand–the cheekiness, the irreverence. But this is America. It has a very different competitive dynamic.” And he said, “Yeah, fine, run with it.” Apart from anything else, it sounds precisely what Branson would say.
If you’ve been following the story you’ll know that that is crucial to the affair. The ragbag of usual suspects opposing Virgin America had its alleged non-US leadership at the top of their list of objections. I argued at the time that anyone who knew anything about Branson would realise that the idea of him running a US airline (or any other airline actually) was frankly ridiculous. The idea of Fred Reid listening to him out of anything other than politeness is even more ridiculous!