Virgin Atlantic outlines thinking for next phase of Delta tie-up

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Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines expect to roll out a series of initiatives over the next two years to improve their competitive position across the North Atlantic once their commercial agreement receives full antitrust approval.

The two airlines today announced an extensive codeshare tie-up as the first step in the joint venture created following Delta's deal to acquire a 49% stake in Virgin from Singapore Airlines last year.

Delta president Ed Bastian says that the US Department of Transportation's investigation into the joint venture is "going quite well, from our understanding" and he expects DoT approval "within a few months".

DoT antitrust approval would clear the way for Delta and Virgin to complete their partnership by the first quarter of 2014. This will allow the two airlines "to work together more explicitly", says Virgin chief executive Craig Kreeger.

"We can offer a better schedule for our customers once we have the ability to engage in those conversations," he adds, giving the New York-London Heathrow market as an example.

"Today we collectively offer nine flights between our two airlines, between the two cities. And those flights are scheduled very competitively with each other. Once we begin to work together, we'll develop a collective schedule across the nine flights that will offer a much broader set of times that will allow us to operate better service to attract more customers to our airlines," Kreeger says.

"Over the course of the next year or two you'll see many other examples of us creating value by working together, and to provide a better competitive alternative than currently exists."