Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of the Virgin Group, says he is considering setting up a successor carrier to Virgin America (VX, San Francisco, CA) a week after the airline announced its proposed sale to Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma Int'l) for a total of USD4 billion.

Speaking to the Condé Nast Traveler magazine, Branson said that after all the money and investment put into Virgin America, he would not allow the Virgin brand to disappear from American skies.

“People love Virgin with a passion that hasn’t existed since the early days of aviation, and I am certainly not going to let it go to waste, even if it means starting all over again as a new domestic airline," he said.

He said that he was against the sale preferring instead to keep Virgin America an independent carrier with the aim of transforming it into one of the country's largest airlines in the future. However, when it became apparent that that option was not available, Branson said he ultimately preferred to see Virgin America acquired by Alaska Airlines and not its rival JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK).

“If it had to be sold, I wanted it go to the company that would treasure the brand, and I felt Alaska would be slightly more likely to treasure the brand than jetBlue,” he said.

While Virgin America's board has already accepted Alaska Airlines' offer, the merger still requires approval from Virgin America shareholders as well as from the relevant US regulatory authorities.

All things considered, the carriers expect the deal to close by the end of the year.