The billionaire has bought Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands back in 1978, and transformed it into an exclusive high-end resort for notable guests including Princess Diana and Mariah Carey.
Richard Branson is fighting to save his Virgin airlines with using his own personal resources. At the time when the coronavirus pandemic devastated the travel and tourism industries, the 69-year-old business magnate made the offer to mortgage his private Necker Island to save the company from collapsing.
On Tuesday, April 21, Virgin airlines announced that it has sought bankruptcy protection because of the COVID-19 crisis. Still, Branson vowed to “do everything we can to keep the airline going.” In an open letter to his Virgin employees, he pledged to use his Caribbean home along with other Virgin assets as collateral “to raise as much money as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the group.”
The “Screw It, Let’s Do It” author would reportedly use the private island located in the British Virgin Islands in an attempt to receive a $600 million loan from Britain’s government. He bought it back in 1978 for $180,000, and transformed it into an exclusive high-end resort, which has attracted notable guests including Mariah Carey, Princess Diana and former President Barack Obama.
Elsewhere in his message, Branson also addressed criticism about him not using his wealth to protect his airlines. “I’ve seen lots of comments about my net worth – but that is calculated on the value of Virgin businesses around the world before this crisis, not sitting as cash in a bank account ready to withdraw,” he explained
“Over the years significant profits have never been taken out of the Virgin Group, instead they have been reinvested in building businesses that create value and opportunities,” he elaborated further. “The challenge right now is that there is no money coming in and lots going out.”
While Branson tried to save his airline empire, aviation industry expert and adviser Chris Tarry pointed out to Daily Mail that “air travel will have changed structurally and it will take a very considerable time for the number of flights and passengers to reach previous level.” He added, “Virgin Atlantic is not the first to ask for government help and won’t be the last. Governments however have to be very clear in what they are investing in and the probability of a return both financial and economic.”