TOKYO (Reuters) - British entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Atlantic Airways VA.UL, said on Tuesday he believes it is unlikely that all big U.S. airlines will survive the next 12 to 18 months.
“I don’t think that the American government will yet again put more billions into the airline industry. They’ve learned their lessons from the car industry,” Branson told Reuters in an interview in Tokyo.
“I just happen to believe it is unlikely that all the big American carriers will survive the next 12 to 18 months,” he said, adding that at least two airline companies are vulnerable.
Branson did not specify which airlines he was referring to.
Virgin Atlantic said on May 26 that its yearly profits nearly doubled, but warned that the weak economic environment would make it “almost impossible” for airlines to make a profit in the current year.
Meanwhile, Branson also said Virgin Atlantic is interested in launching flights between Australia and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which is currently undergoing a major expansion, in the next 12 to 18 months.
Reporting by Mariko Katsumura