Branson piqued at Walsh taunt over Virgin Atlantic

Sir Richard Branson pledged to keep control of his airline after arch rival, BA boss Willie Walsh, said that Singapore Airlines' sale of its stake in Virgin Atlantic would lead to the demise of the brand.

Singapore Airlines is finalising the sale of its 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic to Delta, the US carrier. Sir Richard stamped out rumours that he was in talks to sell part of his controlling 51 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic. Answering taunts made by Mr Walsh that Virgin Atlantic would disappear if Delta bought the stake in the airline, Sir Richard said: "Rumours have been spread... that I am planning to give up control of Virgin Atlantic and, according to Willie Walsh, that our brand will soon disappear. This is wishful thinking and totally misguided."