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The BA Christmas bonus

When Richard Branson's airline won $945,000 from a lawsuit, he gave it all to his employees

Three decades after after its launch, Virgin Atlantic is the second-largest UK carrier. "But it hasn't always been easy ... during those 33 years," the founder writes in a letter to his employees.

Most notably, when Branson's airline was trying to establish itself in the 1990s, British Airways ran what became known as the "dirty tricks" campaign.

"We had about four planes flying, and [British Airways] went to extraordinary lengths to put us out of business," recalls Branson on an episode of NPR's "How I Built This" podcast. "They had a team of people illegally accessing our computer information and ringing up our passengers and pretending that they were from Virgin, telling them that flights were cancelled and switching them onto BA."

Virgin took British Air to court and won $945,000 in damages, the largest libel settlement in UK history. Branson chose to invest the money back into his Virgin Atlantic team.

"It was Christmas time," he tells Raz. "It became known as the BA Christmas bonus — we distributed it to all our staff equally."
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