Schwarzenegger sells Branson on Calif. airline base


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Schwarzenegger sells Branson on Calif. airline base
Saturday January 17, 2:46 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Living up to his promise to be California's most visible salesman, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is lobbying Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. (VA.UL) founder Richard Branson to base his fledgling U.S. carrier near San Francisco, an aide to the actor said on Saturday.

"He's working on bringing it to California," a Schwarzenegger aide, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. "The governor is always working on bringing jobs to California and this is one way of doing it."

The lobbying comes amid stiff competition with Boston and Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. for Branson's new Virgin USA.

Schwarzenegger and economic development officials are seeking to bring Virgin USA to San Francisco International Airport so it may better compete with its nearby rival, Oakland International Airport, used by low-cost carriers Southwest Airlines Inc. (NYSE:LUV - News) and JetBlue Airways Corp. (NasdaqNM:JBLU - News).

A Virgin USA headquarters could employ some 400 to 500 people with a local payroll of $30 million annually, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Schwarzenegger and local officials have offered Virgin USA some $18 million in state and local funds to train new employees, the newspaper noted.

Boston is offering low-cost leases at a city-owned industrial park, a $3,000 tax credit for local workers and $1.5 million for training, according to the Boston Globe.

Officials with Virgin USA, which is expected to select its U.S. base within a few months, could not be reached for comment.

The Hollywood icon reportedly began lobbying Branson after meeting him on set of the upcoming movie "Around the World in 80 Days," which cast both men in small parts.
$18,000,000 to a Brit to base an airline in CA?

What happened to self-sufficiency?
Shhhhhh self sufficiency means it can't be a LCC!
Will it mean Brits based out of CA, or will they use american pilots? Not that there is a difference (Iain)
If he's throwing around $18,000,000, might as well give it to USAirways to start a west coast base.

More people stay employed and the money stays in America, rather than the UK.
I'm hoping he starts this company soon.....I've been trying to network the heck out of my current job w/ VAA. Maybe i'll get on as an FO w/ Virgin USA.....I can only hope!
Will it mean Brits based out of CA, or will they use american pilots? Not that there is a difference (Iain)

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They will be using local pilots, probably just like Virgin Blue in Australia.
If he's throwing around $18,000,000, might as well give it to USAirways to start a west coast base.

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I don't think USair will get any better....the executives will share it for their bonuses. They might as well begin from the scratch and bring on the Virgin

However there is more benefit in that employees will be American, so atleast some of the money will stay here. H

However (again) , how will it undermine American owned companies?
I suggest you guys look at Virgin Blue, and what they have done, how is has been structured and operated. I think you guys would be at more ease afterwards.
I remember an interview years ago, and the founder of Virgin Atlantic said he would love to fly in the US, against the US carriers. Well, atleast he will have to start a whole new airline and hire americans.
This is NOT cabotage, folks. Virgin USA will be a US-based carrier with an FAA operating certificate, employing American employees. A new airline operating more airplanes in this country, employing more pilots, is a good thing. Yes, the airline will be (in part) owned by a foreign national. However, a great many companies doing business in this country are partially (or entirely) overseas-owned and their employees do just fine. As long as Branson complies with applicable laws on foreign ownership, I'm all for this. And if Arnold can lure Branson to California, that's good for California.

Richard Branson can kiss my shiny former-Californian buttocks.

If he can't pull it off without an $18,000,000 corporate welfare handout from Ahhnold, he should keep his butt in the UK.

Because you know, never in a BILLION years would the Brit's give Southwest a red cent to enter in an already oversaturated market.
*blush* I guess everyone knows where I stand on this issue, eh?
It's not that Branson can't do it without help, it's that various places want him there, so they're offering the handouts. His coming to SFO means jobs and tax revenues that will help the state, and The Governator doesn't want to lose that to Beantown. Yeah, the Brits might not do things the same way, but recruiting employers to an area is a very common practice in this country.

The one thing that I am worried about with this is that it might open the door to getting rid of the foreign ownership requirement. The CEO of British Airways gave a speech today and that was one of the things he wants to see go away.

And if that goes away.....
Doug, disregard the PM I sent about the links on the front page. They appear to be fixed now.