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‘Planes will fly with new owners’: Black Swan author Taleb urges UK to let Branson’s airline go bust

‘Planes will fly with new owners’: Black Swan author Taleb urges UK to let Branson’s airline go bust
Famed author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb has trained his sights on billionaire Richard Branson, urging the UK government to let the airline owned by the “tax refugee” to go bankrupt.

Branson has had a torrid fortnight, drawing the ire of politicians of all stripes for putting all Virgin Atlantic staff on unpaid leave because the carrier has been walloped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tycoon has led the calls for a state-sponsored bailout of the aviation sector, but plans to use the funds to cover fixed costs, rather than pay its staff.

Also on rt.com ‘Least deserving’ Branson roasted as Virgin Atlantic seeks massive state-sponsored bailout despite not paying staff

Taleb wrote The Black Swan, which is widely touted as one of the most influential books of the century. His writings give his words extra weight in the current global situation as they focus on the extraordinary impact of rare events.

The risk analyst has given short shrift to the suggestion of bailouts for airlines, saying that the industry was hugely influential in preventing governments from calling a halt to flights from China as the outbreak spread in the Asian country. 

However, the author reserved his most scathing analysis for Branson, whom he dubbed a “tax refugee” who “walks around virtue-faking with [the] TED [and] Davos crowd.”

“He lives in the British Virgin Islands and since the UK has no worldwide taxation, [he] pays no taxes. Yets wants the UK taxpayer's backstop,” Taleb said, in a blistering tweet.

Let him go bust. Planes will fly with new owners!

Virgin Atlantic has been particularly badly hit by the Covid-19 crisis as it does not have the cash reserves of some of its larger competitors. It reportedly approached the UK government and the Rothschild investment bank, who are said to be handling negotiations, for a package worth hundreds of millions of pounds in loans and guarantees.

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