The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved a limited codeshare between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways, marking the first step towards the carriers' planned immunised trans-Atlantic alliance.
Delta and Virgin flights between the UK and USA will carry the other airline's code, as well as select Delta domestic flights from Virgin's US gateways, according to a regulatory filing on 13 June. The codeshare initially covers only travellers on international itineraries.
Atlanta-based Delta is in the process of acquiring a 49% stake in Virgin from Singapore Airlines, which it anticipates to close in the third quarter. It plans to form an immunised alliance between North America and the UK with the British carrier by the end of the year.
The DOT's move is seen as the first step towards Delta and Virgin's planned metal neutral alliance, which also requires approval from the US Department of Justice and UK regulators.
Delta and Virgin said in their April application that they would not form an alliance until immunity is granted.