Atlantic Coast Airlines, the regional carrier which derives more than 80% of its revenues from its express carrier relationship with United (primarily based at Dulles), has been the subject of much speculation recently.
The airline has failed to iron out the details of its contract with United. United wants reduced costs and Atlantic Coast doesn’t want to budge. Atlantic Coast has threatened to go it alone.
Along comes Mesa, another regional carrier, with an offer to purchase Atlantic Coast. Mesa flies under the banner of several carriers and would be well positioned to grow a relationship with one of many major airlines. One of those airlines is in fact United.
In the latest chapter of the drama, speculation abounds that Virgin may be interested in taking a stake, perhaps along with Mesa. Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein is a former Virgin executive and he retains close ties to Richard Branson.
Branson has been known on many occasions to posture and make bold claims for publicity. In this case, Virgin is offering non-denial denials (suggesting Virgin isn’t interested, but refusing to deny that Virgin’s current shell US subsidiary would be interested).