‘Severe’ Brexit damage already being felt by travel, says Branson

Sir Richard Branson has said travel has already been damaged “severely” by the Brexit fallout, which he predicts could cost the industry billions.

Speaking after Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight from Heathrow to Seattle touched down, Sir Richard warned that the impact has already been seen by just thinking about Brexit.

He also said Virgin Atlantic needs to compete with low-cost long-haul carriers but would not “bastardise” its product to do so.

On Brexit, he told a press conference: “I speak out and I think others should too.

“A hard Brexit will damage the travel industry severely, the travel industry has already been damaged severely from the thought of Brexit and we are talking about the travel industry losing hundreds of millions collectively, billions I suspect. So they’d be foolish not to speak out.”

Suggesting he would not disagree with those that suggest Brexit can be repealed, he added:

“If I was a business person and I was going to make the most important business decision of my life I wouldn’t decide to make it three years before it happens and then say I’m going to stick with whatever the outcome of those negotiation is in three years’ time.

“I would leave my options open and I just hope sanity will prevail and that if it’s going to damage Great Britain and the travel industry then I hope somebody will own up to that.”

Sir Richard was also quizzed on the rise of low-cost long-haul carriers such as Norwegian and IAG’s new airline LEVEL recently launched by BA parent IAG.

He said: “We must compete with anybody on low prices as well as quality. That’s what Virgin Atlantic has done for 33 years and will continue to do for the next 33 years. We will do it in a way that doesn’t bastardise our product.”

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