Alaska Airlines says it will retire the Virgin America brand by 2019 following its $2.6 billion acquisition of the popular airline, a decision that prompted its founder Richard Branson to pen a heartfelt farewell letter.
The blog post published Thursday is directed primarily at Virgin America’s employees and its customers, many of whom were steadfastly loyal to the brand that stood out in an ever-shrinking pool of airline giants.
As Branson writes, it’s hard to say goodbye. But Branson, who reflects on the battles and victories of the airline that began operations in 2007, offers a few business lessons as well.
It’s OK to Cry
Even he admits to crying over the sale of his “beloved Virgin Records for $1 billion.” The news about Virgin America prompted a similar reaction.
“Many tears are shed today, this time over Alaska Airlines’ decision to buy and now retire Virgin America,” Branson writes.
Appreciate the Ride
Branson kicks off the note suggesting that there’s a point, as with a lot of thing in life, where “we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all.”
He spends the rest of the note recalling the moments in the Virgin America “ride,” many of which were challenging battles against the industry and even weather.
To Make a Difference, There Will Be Pain
Branson seems to relish the details of the company’s many battles in his letter. But then again, in his view, the pain was worth it because the intent was to build a different kind of airline.
In other words, it wasn’t just a fight for access to airports. It was a battle to change the industry—or at least offer something new and of value to customers.
Branson manages to cram in a more few business tips, including:
- Build a business that puts its people first.
- Work with partners who share your same progressive and inclusive values.
- Focus on delivering a great customer experience, and success will come.
- Make business a force for good.
- Stay positive; attitude is everything.