In Focus

Screw it, let’s do it, says Branson – but is he still the man to save Virgin Australia and Atlantic?

Despite being only a 10 per cent shareholder, the British billionaire seems particularly wounded by the collapse of Virgin Australia and his savaged reputation at home and abroad. Adam Thorn asks whether one of aviation’s big beasts has one more comeback left in him

Virgin Australia Group’s decision to enter voluntary administration was confirmed to the ASX at 8:51am on Tuesday, 21 April. Yet within an hour, Sir Richard Branson had uploaded a video message to its staff on his Instagram channel, seemingly shot from his bedroom on his private Caribbean island, Necker. Sir Richard’s Virgin Group owns just 10 per cent of the Australian company, but the British businessman will be only too aware that he’s still very much seen by the wider world as its figurehead. It’s Sir Richard’s underdog, can-do, socking-to-the-big-guy ethos that has defined his entire portfolio of companies – even if the reality might be different.

And so, he paid tribute to his staff, its customers and the 20-year history of Virgin Australia, as you’d expect. But then he did something that, given the context, you probably wouldn’t.

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