Pilots at Delta Air Lines are touting the recognizable benefits of the newly-signed joint venture agreement between their carrier and Air France-KLM.

On 20 May the carriers finalized the agreement, which covers 25% of total transatlantic capacity. Each carrier expects to yield roughly $150 million in synergies from the cost and revenue-sharing deal.

The agreement combines the former ventures of Air France-Delta and KLM-Northwest. Delta and Northwest merged in October 2008.

Leaders of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) unit at Delta recently told membership that it will work with its counterparts at Air France-KLM to ensure "no pilot group is unfairly advantaged" by the joint venture.

But the union does acknowledge the benefits of the agreement telling members, "The competitive advantage that this joint venture brings is nothing short of immense."

ALPA highlights that prior to the Delta-Northwest merger last year, pre-merger Northwest pilots were "familiar with the benefits they received in the 12-year joint venture they had with KLM, which included a strategically important European continental hub and increased flying over the North Atlantic, flying which would not have been profitable or sustainable were it not for the joint venture".

ALPA says since Delta and Air France launched their joint venture in 2007, "Delta pilots have also seen benefits, one crucial benefit being access to London's Heathrow airport".

Endorsement of the joint venture by Delta pilots is a contrast to the sentiment among pilots at American Airlines on the proposed antitrust immunity by American and its Oneworld partners British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Royal Jordanian.

The head of the American pilots union the Allied Pilots Association (APA) last year sent a letter to the heads of BA and Iberia stressing the need for American to reach a deal with its pilots before the joint agreement can proceed.

APA argues its scope clause in the current contract does contain a variety of exceptions - including exemptions for codesharing and commuter affiliates - "that have permitted management to engage in various alternatives to having and American Airlines pilot at the flight controls. There is no such exception for this type of joint business agreement".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news