Virgin Atlantic Airways and Delta Air Lines announced today that they have formed an agreement for a new alliance that will further increase both of the airlines’ already extensive Trans-Atlantic networks. This alliance will increase competition with other airlines on the hundreds of Trans-Atlantic flights each day, meaning passengers will receive cheaper fares and greater benefits.
Delta has invested an astonishing $360 million in obtaining a 49% share in Virgin Atlantic, while Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group will retain the other 51%, majority, share of the airline. The 49% share was previously owned by Singapore Airlines. Don’t expect livery changes or an absorption of the Virgin Atlantic brand into Delta’s. Virgin Atlantic will keep maintain its unique brand and its own operating certificate.
This partnership between two of the Trans-Atlantic giants will offer plenty of exciting features. One of the most beneficial for passengers is that both airlines will be fully integrated on the partner flights, meaning that fares can be booked on any of the flights through either of the airlines. As a result, the two airlines will share all the revenues and expenses from the partner flights. Another benefit for passengers, is that Frequent Flyer benefits will be shared. This means that Delta Skymiles members can earn and book award travel on Virgin Atlantic, and vice versa. There will also be shared access to the Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse for qualifying passengers.
The combined Trans-Atlantic network will consist of 31 daily flights between Great Britain and the United States, with an emphasis on service between London Heathrow and the New York area, including 9 daily roundtrip flights between Heathrow and JFK or Newark. This route is the largest Trans-Atlantic route in terms of daily passengers.
The airlines plan on having the joint venture approved and established by the end of 2013, pending approval by the US Department of Transporation.