Delta Air Lines announced (24-Jun-2013) the completion of its acquisition of a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic from Singapore Airlines, following approval from the European Commission and US Department of Justice. The carriers also announced a new codeshare and frequent flyer partnership to commence on 03-Jul-2013. The carrier will implement a codeshare agreement across 108 routes to 66 destinations in the UK and North America. Virgin Atlantic code will be placed on 91 Delta trans-Atlantic and domestic US services. Delta's code will be placed on 17 Virgin Atlantic routes, including 'Little Red' UK domestic services. The agreement includes the following highlights:
- Delta customers will gain an additional six daily frequencies between London and New York;
- The carrier's SkyMiles and Flying Club loyalty programmes will offer up to 125 percent tier bonus miles to frequent flyers on all Delta and Virgin Atlantic flights - not just those within the codeshare agreement;
- Reciprocal Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse access at applicable airports for premium passengers, as well as Flying Club gold members and SkyMiles platinum and diamond members;
- Priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Virgin Atlantic and Delta operated flights worldwide - not just those within the codeshare agreement - for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Flying Club gold members as well as Delta BusinessElite and SkyMiles gold, platinum and diamond members.
The US Department of Transportation is currently reviewing the carriers' application for antitrust immunity relating to the proposed JV of their operations on non-stop routes between the US and the UK. This review is expected to be completed during 3Q2013, and the implementation of the Delta/Virgin Atlantic JV is anticipated to occur in 1Q2014. Delta Air Lines president Ed Bastian said: "This is a strategic investment that enhances Delta's network with greatly improved access to London Heathrow, the leading marketplace on the trans-Atlantic. As we unite two leading global airline brands in an innovative partnership that focuses on delivering enhanced benefits and services for our customers, we also become a more formidable competitor across the Atlantic." Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger said: "Today is an important day for Virgin Atlantic and our customers in both the US and UK. As new shareholders in the airline, Delta is an important ally in the all-important trans-Atlantic market. We can stand firm together against the competition and can now offer more destinations, a smoother connecting airport experience and ultimately the best trans-Atlantic on board experience." [more - original PR] [more - original PR - II]