Delta and Virgin Atlantic to form alliance


Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways have reached an agreement for a new joint venture that will create an expanded trans-Atlantic network and enhance competition between the UK and North America.

As part of this joint venture agreement, Delta will invest $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49% stake currently held by Singapore Airlines. Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson will retain the majority 51% stake and Virgin Atlantic Airways will retain its brand and operating certificate.

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 UK and North America, with 31 peak-day round-trip flights; enhanced benefits for customers, including co-operation 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.

The share purchase and the joint venture are expected to be implemented by the end of 2013. All of Delta’s flights between the U.S. and London-Heathrow feature fully-flat bed seats, offering direct aisle access in the BusinessElite cabin. These flights also offer Delta’s popular Economy Comfort seating in the forward section of the Economy cabin. Economy Comfort offers four additional inches of legroom and 50% more recline, compared to standard Economy seats.

All cabins offer in-seat audio and video-on-demand, with a broad range of in-flight entertainment options. Delta also will begin introducing in-flight Wi-Fi service on international flights in 2013. Virgin Atlantic has recently completed a £150m upgrade program. A new Upper Class cabin has been introduced across its Airbus A330 aircraft, which features the longest fully-flat bed in the sky. This is complemented by a redesigned onboard bar and new Clubhouses at both JFK and Newark airports. The airline’s Boeing 747 leisure fleet has been completely refitted and features onboard connectivity and VERA Touch – Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning touch screen in-flight entertainment system – offering passengers hours of entertainment at their fingertips.

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