Instead of trying to fix the foreign control problems that sunk their application, they’ve decided to take their fight to the public instead. According this Forbes article, next week is the beginning of a massive PR blitz called “Let VA Fly,” or something along those lines.
Despite DOT objections that seem perfectly rationale in regards to the ownership structure and the brand license agreement, Fred Reid, CEO of the airline has decided to ignore that completely. Instead, he says “They don’t have a highfalutin problem with foreign equity. They’re opportunistically killing the competition.”
So now next week they’ll launch letVAfly.com (it redirects to their home page now). This site will allow people to sign petitions that will go to Congress. They’ll also go viral in their attempt to gain sympathy by going to social media sites. I’m not sure what that means practically, but we’ll find out soon enough. There is a plan to allow sneak peaks of their interiors that I imagine will make its way on to YouTube very quickly.
This strategy seems painfully bad to me. The DOT has ruled that there are ownership concerns. The only way Congress is going to change that ruling is by allowing increased foreign ownership and that’s not going to happen in the near future. This campaign is only likely to anger people in Washington. I’d say that by ignoring the valid concerns of the DOT and trying to turn it against them is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen in a long time.
Not only are they trying to turn it against the DOT, they’ve decided to pretend like nothing happened and go right on spending money. Today, they announced that the airline will offer DISH Network at every seat. Talk about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. . . .
Personally, I don’t have a problem with increased foreign ownership, and I’d be happy if these guys were allowed to fly, but that’s not the issue here. The laws are clear and the DOT ruled based on those laws. Putting pictures on YouTube is only going to make it worse.