Virgin America Inc., the airline backed by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson, is reaching out to potential buyers about a sale of part or all of the company, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The carrier, which flies to destinations throughout the U.S. and Mexico, is working with a financial adviser after receiving takeover interest, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. No decision has been made, and Virgin America may choose not to pursue a sale, they said.

Shares in Virgin America rose as much as 12.2 percent at 10:49 a.m. after they were temporarily halted in New York, valuing the company at about $1.5 billion.

Representatives for Virgin America didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Burlingame, California-based airline sold stock in a $353 million initial public offering less than 18 months ago, pricing its shares at $23 apiece, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, which also owns stakes in gyms, hotels and telecommunications companies around the world. This month, he helped the airline launch a new route from San Francisco to Denver.

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Photo Credit: Virgin America flight attendants hold a model of a Virgin America Airbus A320 commercial aircraft during a live auction several years ago. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok