Today’s big travel news was another major shake-up in the airline industry: Virgin Atlantic and Delta have announced a joint venture with Delta investing $360 million in Virgin Atlantic to acquire a 49% stake in the airline. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 and should offer some great opportunities that will benefit Delta and Virgin Atlantic travelers.
Highlights of the agreement include:
- A fully integrated joint venture that will operate on a “metal neutral” basis with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues from all joint venture flights
- A combined trans-Atlantic network between the United Kingdom and North America with 31 peak-day round-trip flights
- Enhanced benefits for customers including cooperation on services between New York and London, with a combined total of nine daily round-trip flights from London-Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport
- Reciprocal frequent flyer benefits
- Shared access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges for elite passengers
Virgin Atlantic President, Sir Richard Branson, commented: “This is an exciting day in Virgin Atlantic history. It signals the start of a new era of expansion, financial growth and many opportunities for our customers and our business. I truly look forward to the possibilities our partnership with Delta will offer. We have always been known for our innovation and service and have punched above our weight for 28 years. That is why our customers love us so much. We will retain that independent spirit but move forward in a strengthened partnership with Delta.”
Delta and Virgin Atlantic customers will be able to earn and redeem miles across Delta’s SkyMiles and Virgin Atlantic’s FlyingClub frequent flyer programs. Premium customers also will have reciprocal access to the Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges. Full details will be announced as services become available.
The partnership allows both carriers to offer a greatly expanded network at Heathrow and to overcome slot constraints, which have limited the growth and competitive capability of both airlines. The two carriers will operate a total of 31 peak-day round-trip flights between the U.K. and North America, 23 of which operate at London-Heathrow. The enlarged network will benefit customers of both carriers by providing greater access to a broader network, improved connectivity and convenient booking options.