- October 28, 2009, 6:02 AM
Online charter broker Virgin Charter stopped “active operations” on Friday according to a company statement. “With the severe decline in corporate travel, Virgin Charter was unable to generate sufficient sales to underpin its business plan and has taken the difficult decision to close its doors.” Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin USA launched Virgin Charter in mid-2007, with a focus on allowing charter users to make all arrangements via Virgin’s Web site. Virgin’s business model was to charge charter operators a fee based on percentage of sales to participate, but the buyer of the flight did not pay to use Virgin Charter. There were signs a few months ago that problems were surfacing at Virgin Charter, when president and CEO Scott Duffy sent an e-mail announcing he was leaving to pursue new opportunities. “If anyone could have made online private jet charter successful, Virgin’s reputation and brand-name recognition should have made them successful,” said Andrew Richmond, president of charter operator TWC Aviation. “That they were not successful only confirms that when people look to charter private jets, they want a much higher level of personal communication than an online system would allow.” Watch interview with Richard Branson on AINtv.