Delta and Virgin Atlantic launch joint venture

Washington DC
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Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways are ready to launch their new immunised joint venture between the UK and USA on 1 January.

The alliance will cover all of their respective flights between the two countries, including the much-coveted New York-London Heathrow market where they will offer a combined nine daily flights from JFK International and Newark Liberty International airports.

“[Tomorrow] represents a huge opportunity for both Virgin Atlantic’s passengers and our business,” says Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic. “Our partnership with Delta means we will be able to offer convenient aligned schedules and a much broader network, giving the best possible travel choices and on board experience to trans-Atlantic passengers.”

Atlanta-based Delta says: “The partnership will provide unique benefits to each carrier. For Delta, the alliance will help the airline effectively compete on trans-Atlantic routes out of London Heathrow. At the same time, Virgin Atlantic's reach will expand significantly with its new access to Delta's North America network.”

The partnership is also expected to help shore-up Virgin Atlantic’s finances. Kreeger told Airline Business in August that he is intent on restoring the airline's profitability in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ends in February 2015.

The carrier reported a pre-tax loss of £69.9 million ($115.8 million) for its fiscal year that ended February 2013.

The metal-neutral alliance will allow Delta and Virgin Atlantic to collaborate on both schedules and pricing, while sharing revenues. They argue that it will also allow them to better compete with other airlines, especially American Airlines and British Airways immunised alliance, between the US and UK

The carriers plan to implement a coordinated schedule between New York and London in March, and Delta will move its Boston, New York and planned Seattle flights to terminal 3 at Heathrow in April.

The Delta-Virgin Atlantic alliance will operate separately from Delta’s existing immunised joint venture with SkyTeam Alliance partners Air France, Alitalia and KLM.

Kreeger said in November that Virgin Atlantic is taking a cautious approach to joining SkyTeam, citing the benefits that it derives from codeshares with airlines outside of the global alliance, including Air China, Singapore Airlines and South African Airways.

US antitrust regulators approved the joint venture this past September following EU regulators approval in June.