Richard Branson's Letter About Virgin America

Richard BransonRichard Branson wrote an open letter lamenting the end of Virgin America. Alaska Air Group purchased the company in 2016 and, only three months later, decided to retire the brand. An Alaska Air official said, "We are going to be able to create a real, strong, integrated airline for travelers on the West Coast." Brandon says, "It has a very different business model and sadly, it could not find a way to maintain its own brand and that of Virgin America."

Branson uses emotional language to describe the decision and the demise of Virgin Records:

With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all. Many years ago, I shed tears over selling my beloved Virgin Records for $1 billion, which we needed to fight off British Airways' Dirty Tricks campaign to try to put Virgin Atlantic out of business. Many tears are shed today, this time over Alaska Airlines' decision to buy and now retire Virgin America.

Branson compliments the airline's employees and customers and includes memories:

Every market was hard-won. The launch parties, the networking, the productivity on flights, the live concerts at 35,000 feet, the marriage proposals, the first in-flight wedding, the Oprah Skype to the plane!

As you might expect from a big personality like Branson, he ends the letter on a dramatic note:

George Harrison once said, "All Things Must Pass." This was the ride and love of a lifetime. I feel very lucky to have been on it with all of you. I'm told some people at Virgin America are calling today "the day the music died." It is a sad (and some would say baffling) day. But I'd like to assure them that the music never dies.


  • Analyze Branson's letter. Who are the primary and secondary audiences? What are the communication objectives? What is the organizational strategy?
  • Given your analysis, how well does the letter meet its objectives?