Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) a US based airline with a global network, announced today that it has acquired a 49% stake in UK long haul airline Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd and also revealed details of a codeshare agreement between the two airlines that will provide seamless connections to 66 destinations across North America and the UK on 108 routes.
The announcement follows the airlines’ receipt of unconditional merger clearance from the EU Commission and US Department of Justice. It is reportedly the next step towards a full joint venture between the Delta and Virgin Atlantic, which was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984.
Under the codeshare agreement, Delta will place its code on 17 Virgin Atlantic routes, including the new Little Red domestic UK services that connect London to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, while Virgin Atlantic will place its code on 91 Delta routes, including both trans-Atlantic and domestic US routes. The agreement means that Virgin Atlantic customers will now be able to take advantage a large network of connecting North American destinations while Delta customers will benefit from a further six daily frequencies between London to New York.
Frequent fliers will be able to claim up to 125% tier bonus miles through the SkyMiles and Flying Club loyalty programmes on all Delta and Virgin Atlantic flights, while reciprocal access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse will be available at applicable airports to Upper Class and BusinessElite passengers, SkyMiles Platinum and Diamond members, and Flying Club Gold members. All Virgin Atlantic and Delta operated flights worldwide will provide priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members as well as Delta BusinessElite and SkyMiles Gold, Platinum and Diamond members.
Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Craig Kreeger, commented; “Today is an important day for Virgin Atlantic and our customers in both the US and UK. As new shareholders in the airline, Delta is an important ally in the all-important trans-Atlantic market. We can stand firm together against the competition and can now offer more destinations, a smoother connecting airport experience and ultimately the best trans-Atlantic on board experience. Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning customer experience is loved around the world and we look forward to sharing our unique Clubhouse and in-flight hospitality with many Delta passengers over the years.”