Delta estimates six-month approvals timeline for Virgin deal

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Delta Air Lines hopes to secure all of the required approvals for its equity purchase and planned joint venture with Virgin Atlantic Airways within a six-month period.

Richard Hirst, senior vice-president and general counsel for the Atlanta-based SkyTeam alliance member, says that competition reviews are underway with regulators in both Europe and the USA, and that UK regulators are reviewing the proposed ownership changes to Virgin Atlantic, during an earnings call today.

Delta plans to file for anti-trust immunity between the UK and USA with the US Department of Justice by the end of January, he adds.

"[We] hope the approvals will come together within six months," says Hirst.

Delta announced that it would buy 49% in Virgin Atlantic from Singapore Airlines for $360 million this past December. Following the acquisition, the carriers plan to form an immunised joint venture between the UK and USA.

A codeshare between Delta and Virgin Atlantic could be in place by the third quarter, say Delta executives during the call.