Someone please buy Virgin America

Virgin America has a net loss of $671 million.  It’s a great airline and certainly the one that everyone said they wanted but . . . it ain’t making money.

And it should be by now.  Virgin America never quite seems to close the revenue gap despite promises that that will happen.  Yes, they have succeeded on many routes and, yes, they are popular with the business traveler who has tried them but . . .

Virgin America doesn’t offer the business traveler what he wants:  Frequent flier miles that go someplace they want to go.

The true business flyer already can access great service and comfortable seats.  They get upgraded on the legacy airlines and sniff at the lowly economy fliers who trudge past them.  They don’t *need* more service.  It’s a nice to have when it comes to Virgin America for these travelers but not a must have.

What the legacy airlines have that Virgin doesn’t is frequent flier miles that give these people the chance to fly their family to great destinations for vacation.  Virgin America doesn’t.  Unless you want to go from San Francisco to New York City.  Not many do.

As much as I want to support Virgin America as a contender, there comes a time when such an airline needs to go away.  I believe that time might be arriving since they have no (announced) plan to improve revenues and profits.  Their advantage is evaporating quickly against legacy airlines and despite their low costs, they can’t even beat Alaska Airlines.

Who should buy them?  You know, a great businessman such as David Neeleman could put JetBlue, Virgin America and Frontier together and create a national airline.  I’m just pointing out the opportunities here since each airline uses the same aircraft type (Virgin and Frontier use the CFM powered version while JetBlue uses the IAE powered version) and which would suddenly have focus cities that cover the East Coast, West Coast and even part of the Midwest.

It’s not a foolish idea.  There are synergies there that would serve all three airlines.  Each has some valuable slots at slot controlled airports. And a 3 way combination isn’t entirely unprecedented in this industry either.

Use JetBlue’s reservations and IT infrastructure.  Use Virgin America’s A320 orders for expansion and use Frontier’s assets to build a real Midwest operation.

But it would take a very visionary airline industry leader.  Someone who has started successful airlines and who is brave enough to take advantage of opportunities and who knows how to compete with major legacy airlines.  Someone who, you know, is driven and leads well.  A guy who speaks both English and Portuguese.

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