Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic airline bring the party to Seattle

Renowned global entrepreneur and adventurer Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic airline are coming to Seattle this month — and there's going to be a party.

Virgin Atlantic is launching its Seattle-to-London service March 26, using a gleaming Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 for the transatlantic flights.

Virgin Atlantic is 49 percent owned by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines. Its new route will replace an old Delta route that offered service with an older Boeing 767.

To mark the British airline's first flight into Seattle on March 26, Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, is doing two things.

First, Branson is leading a daytime entrepreneur learning and networking event March 28. For the panel, he will be joined by Puget Sound business leaders, including Nadia Shouraboura, founder and CEO at Hointer; Jonathan Sposato, angel investor and CEO at PicMonkey; and Chase Jarvis, founder and CEO at CreativeLive.

After that event ends, Branson and Virgin Atlantic are throwing an invitation-only evening bash at Q Nightclub in downtown Seattle.

The Seattle visit comes at a delicate time for Branson.

SeaTac-based Alaska Airlines took over his beloved sister airline, Virgin America, for $2.6 billion in late 2016. And there has been some doubt about whether Alaska Airlines will continue licensing the Virgin brand, which is expensive to use.

Virgin America pays a fee equal to about 0.7 percent of the California airline's total revenue since Jan. 1 2016, securities filings show. That likely topped $10 million last year.

Halley Knigge spokeswoman for Alaska, declined to say if Branson would be meeting any senior Alaska or Virgin America executives to discuss the future of the branding and licensing deal.

Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman Brett Weliever said Branson's entrepreneur series learning and networking event in Seattle will be streamed live online. Technical details will follow when they become available. For further information, readers may call 347-801-2346.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

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