Branson says Alaska Air was ‘foolish’ to absorb Virgin America

Alaska Air acquired Virgin America in April 2016 in a deal valued at $4 billion. The British entrepreneur says he was very disappointed the takeover happened, saying there was nothing he could do to stop the idea.

“I wasn’t allowed to contain the voting shares by the American government because I had an English accent. America said you can set up along with also run an airline, however you can’t contain the voting shares,” Branson said.

Alaska Air did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Branson says the Department of Transportation handcuffed him with the restriction. He previously said he started out the Virgin Group’s airlines because of his dissatisfaction with the flying experience the industry offered. “Virgin Atlantic put the Virgin Group on the map” on a global basis, he said.

While Alaska Air said in March the idea plans to maintain much of the Virgin America brand elements — inflight entertainment, mood light, music along with also more — Branson is usually not convinced.

“Big companies often do that will: They buy something because the idea’s doing so well, along with also then they castrate the idea,” Branson said.