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Exciting news...

A new strategic alliance between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic

We are delighted to announce a new strategic alliance with Delta Air Lines.

We believe this is very exciting news for our customers, for our business and signals the start of a new era of growth and opportunities.  On 11th December 2012, we announced that Delta will acquire a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic from Singapore Airlines. Virgin Group – and Richard Branson – will continue as majority shareholder with a 51% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Our new partnership with Delta will provide a significant boost for both airlines between North America and the UK, particularly in the New York-London market, which is one of the most competitive business markets in the world.

We have also announced a joint venture with Delta which will create an expanded transatlantic network.  By combining the strengths of our two companies in a joint venture, we can better serve customers travelling between North America and the UK and continue building a better airline for our employees, shareholders and most importantly our customers. 

In order to realise all the benefits of the joint venture, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) will need to grant Delta and ourselves regulatory approval.  Because we believe there are major consumer benefits, we are confident that the DOT will approve the joint venture and it will come into effect within the next 12 months.

For more information about our alliance, please view our dedicated Q&A's below:

Virgin Atlantic and Delta video clip

Video clip

Featuring statements from Richard Anderson - CEO of Delta Air Lines, Richard Branson - President of Virgin Atlantic and Julie Southern - Chief Commercial Officer.

Watch video of our alliance announcement


Our Customers:

What does this alliance mean for customers?

Customers of both airlines will benefit from an expanded network of flights between and within the U.S, Canada and Mexico and the U.K, providing more travel choices.

Virgin Atlantic customers will gain access to thousands of Delta flights to, from and within North America while Delta customers gain more in-network travel options to London-Heathrow and beyond, on Virgin Atlantic’s new short haul services.

Customers also will enjoy reciprocal frequent flier programmes, access to Delta Sky Clubs and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges and convenient connections between the carriers. 

This Joint Venture will offer corporate customers a credible alternative to British Airways’ and American Airlines’ dominance.

Will customers have access to Virgin Atlantic’s lounge at Heathrow?

Each airlines elite customers will benefit from reciprocal lounge access. Full details will be announced as soon as possible. 

Can customers earn SkyMiles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club miles on Delta flights?

Yes, customers of both airlines will be able to acquire and redeem miles on both carriers.   Full details will be announced as soon as possible.

Will the two airlines merge their frequent flyer programs?

There are currently no plans to do this.

Will Delta - Virgin Atlantic develop common products?

The two airlines will retain their distinctive brands, cultures and products to continue to offer more choice to our customers.

Will connections between flights in New York and London be difficult?

Both airlines in New York are in Terminal 4 at JFK and are in close proximity at Heathrow, in order to allow quick and easy connections.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will also work towards co-location at London Heathrow and other airports where possible.

How do Delta’s and Virgin Atlantic’s products compare?

Delta enjoys some of the best customer satisfaction scores in the industry and has invested significantly in its fleet.  Virgin Atlantic is well known for its customer service and innovative product, so there are great synergies between the two airlines’ offerings. 

Airline Alliance:

What is the Delta alliance about?

There are two main aspects to this alliance.

Firstly: Delta has made an offer to purchase Singapore Airlines’ 49% shareholding in Virgin Atlantic Ltd.

Secondly: Delta and Virgin Atlantic are creating a trans-Atlantic joint venture on flights between the United States, Canada and Mexico and the United Kingdom. The partnership will provide additional revenue opportunities, enhanced customer benefits and opportunities for employees. The joint venture will see both airlines sharing the costs and revenues from all flights regardless of which carrier operates the service.  Implementation of the full joint venture will require approval from the US Department of Transportation.

When will this alliance happen?

The shareholding deal between Singapore Airlines and Delta takes effect once approval has been granted by the US Dept of Justice and the European Commission and other relevant authorities.

The joint venture takes effect following approval by the US DoT. We have every confidence that they will be as convinced of the consumer benefits as we are, and approve the deal in an expedited timescale, expected by the end of 2013. Prior to the Joint Venture entering into effect, the airlines will enter into a codeshare agreement and link frequent flyer programmes. 

What happens in the meantime?

Singapore Airlines remains a shareholder playing the same important role as ever on our board, until such time as the equity transaction is approved.

In the short-term, the big difference it will make is linking our Flying Club with Delta’s SkyMiles programme, allowing passengers to earn and burn miles on each other’s services.  Our customers will also have access to a reciprocal codeshare relationship across a vast array of the joint venture routes, in the UK and across North America, and elite customers will have access to each airline’s Sky Lounges and Clubhouses.

In order to reap the full benefits of the joint venture, the US Department of Transportation will need to grant Anti-Trust Immunity to the partners. 

Why are we doing this now?

This joint venture is a great opportunity for Virgin Atlantic to grow and to expand its reach within the US, allowing us to link our route network with Delta’s (which offers additional schedule and connection choices to passengers), allowing us to compete more effectively with the other major international airline joint ventures, global alliances and driving efficiency, all to the benefit of consumers.

Virgin Atlantic and our passengers will gain huge benefit by having Delta as a transatlantic partner.  The joint venture will transform Virgin Atlantic’s passengers’ choice to beyond points with around 45 destinations now linking to VAA’s Heathrow to US routes.

When will the Delta-Virgin Atlantic joint venture take effect?

It will take effect as soon as possible following Anti-Trust Immunity approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is expected by the end of 2013.  The overall transaction will also be reviewed by European and other regulatory authorities.


How much will the Joint Venture be worth?

The Joint Venture will encompass combined revenues of approximately $3 billion and connect millions of passengers across the transatlantic services of two great airlines, link their frequent flyer programmes, and deliver significant consumer benefits and business synergies, choice etc.

Why didn’t Delta buy Virgin Atlantic outright?

Richard Branson's stake wasn't for sale.

Virgin Atlantic has always campaigned against Joint Venture and now it’s creating one?

VAA has always campaigned on behalf of consumers, who benefit from a competitive air transport market through fares and service.  This transatlantic joint venture will enable Virgin Atlantic and Delta to compete more effectively with the likes of British Airways and American Airlines, to the benefit of all consumers.

NYC Route:

How does this affect service in New York?

Customers gain increased flight options between New York and London Heathrow.  Delta’s newly enhanced and expanded JFK Terminal 4, which will open in May 2013, complements existing Virgin Atlantic operations, which are also at Terminal 4. Heathrow service also will be available to Delta customers from Newark Airport. Once the Joint Venture enters into effect, the number of Heathrow flights available to Delta’s customers in New York will increase from three to nine.

Does that mean we’ll see other cities with new Heathrow service? Where?

The agreement will likely create more opportunities for additional Delta services to London Heathrow and Virgin Atlantic services to the United States. Any additional cities would be announced once available for sale to customers.  

Delta also recently announced plans to begin a third daily flight between Heathrow and Atlanta. In addition, Delta customers will be able to access joint venture flights on Virgin Atlantic from Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Newark, Orlando, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Cancun and Vancouver.

Will the alliance offer services to Heathrow from US cities other than New York?

Yes. In addition to New York, Delta-Virgin Atlantic will operate services to London Heathrow from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

What does this mean for Virgin Atlantic’s level of service at Heathrow?

Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate its full schedule out of Heathrow.

Joint Venture:

Will Delta be involved in the governance of Virgin Atlantic?

As a 49% owner, Delta will play an important role on the Virgin Atlantic Board just as Singapore Airlines has done.

How does the alliance add to Delta’s existing venture with Air France, KLM and Alitalia?

The partnership will significantly boost Delta’s presence at London Heathrow airport, filling a gap in the Delta’s existing global network.  Delta will continue its partnership with Air France, KLM and Alitalia?

Will the airlines merge?

No, there will be no merger of the airlines’ operations.  Both airlines are to form a Joint Venture that covers transatlantic flying.  Virgin Atlantic and Delta will both maintain their own distinct identities.

Are Virgin Holidays part of the Joint Venture?

Passengers that travel with Virgin Holidays on joint venture routes may fly on Virgin or Delta planes and the ticket sales from such passengers will be included within the Joint Venuture. However, as a tour operator Virgin Holidays is outside of the scope of the Joint Venture and will continue to operate independently.

Does this Joint Venture include cargo sales?

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will explore ways to cooperate on their cargo operations.


Where will Delta’s operations be based at London Heathrow – T3 or T4?

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will explore options to co-locate in the same terminal at London Heathrow.  A solution has not yet been finalised.  In the near term, each airline will continue to operate from its current terminal.

Where will Delta operate from in New York – JFK or Newark?

Today Delta’s London-Heathrow Service operates from JFK airport, while Virgin operates London Heathrow – New York area services both from JFK and Newark. At this time, no changes to either carrier’s London-Heathrow service have been announced. Any future changes to the carriers’ schedules will be announced when the schedules are available for sale.

Will connections between Virgin and Delta flights in New York and London be difficult?

Both airlines in New York are in Terminal 4 at JFK and are in close proximity at Heathrow, in order to allow quick and easy connections.


Does this mean Virgin Atlantic will join SkyTeam?

Virgin Atlantic is evaluating potential entry to the SkyTeam alliance, of which Delta is a member.  However, SkyTeam entry is not essential in order to realise the immediate and substantial benefits of the joint venture.

How is Virgin America affected by this deal?

Virgin America is a separately owned carrier and is not involved in the new partnership between Delta and Virgin Atlantic.  Current frequent flyer benefits are maintained.

What about Virgin Atlantic codesharing with Virgin America?

Virgin Atlantic has an interline relationship with Virgin America which will not be affected.

Does this have any impact on Delta’s joint venture with Virgin Australia?

Delta continues to build its joint venture with Virgin Australia on flights between the U.S. and Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. That agreement is not affected by the Virgin Atlantic partnership.  Nor is Virgin Atlantic’s code share to Hong Kong.