Maybe it’s time Richard Branson, the world’s greatest self-publicist, shut up. Why? Because he looks like one of those establishment fools he so successfully derided when launching his Virgin Group aviation empire against the might of British Airways. Mr Branson has become a self-serving hypocrite who often makes no business sense.
Take his latest tirade against the evil Qantas-Emirates alliance, reported in The Australian today, which he says would push up airfares.
“Good governments would never have allowed this to happen, and now you have less than a handful of big carriers around the world and prices will go up as a result,” he said.
Three points to be made here.
The first is that Mr Branson is trying to play his historic role as an underdog. He is a British billionaire telling a foreign government what to do.
Rather a colonial attitude don’t you think old boy?
The second point is that Virgin Australia is majority owned by foreign airlines – Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Air New Zealand and the Virgin Group.
All had invested in Virgin Australia before Qantas did its thing with Emirates.
A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, yet Mr Branson consistently implies that Virgin Australia should be judged differently, saying it needs the alliance to compete against Qantas.
Or to put it another way, it’s ok for us but not for our major competitor.
The third point is on airfares.
Mr Branson claims that major aviation alliances will drive them up.
In fact, the reverse has occurred in Australia and airfares, especially domestic, remain at unsustainably low levels due to a capacity war Qantas says is led by Virgin.
Both carriers have flagged major financial losses this financial year as a result.
So why in effect argue that airfares should be lower than they are currently?
To look like a champion of the people of course.
However, that’s a question best put to the British billionaire.
Just don’t expect the answer to make sense.