Delta and Virgin execs feisty when discussing BA

By Kate Rice

Virgin Atlantic Airways has long been playing David to British Airways’ Goliath, establishing itself as one of the “scrappiest competitors in the marketplace,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s CEO and president.

Richard AndersonAnd the tone of the press conference in New York announcing the proposed joint venture between Delta and Virgin Atlantic showed that there now could be two Richards — Anderson and Branson, Virgin Atlantic’s founder and president — with a zest for verbal dueling with British Airways CEO Willie Walsh.

Branson said via video link that he is looking forward to working with Anderson in giving “the rest of the industry a true run for its money.”

And Anderson, when asked what he thought of Walsh’s contention that Delta would retire the Virgin brand, first said a firm “no,” and then came back to add more.

“That actually gets my blood to boil a little bit,” he said. “The whole purpose is to join the brands together. The brand of Virgin Atlantic is the centerpiece of the investment."

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.

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