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Delta and Virgin Atlantic have reached an agreement to form a joint venture with a focus on the Trans-Atlantic network. This joint venture will have an impact to both Delta and Virgin Atlantic business travelers. Here is a quick rundown of the implications and questions that remain unanswered.
Joint Venture Deal Highlights
The Joint Venture details include:
- A fully integrated joint venture that will operate on a “metal neutral” basis with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues from all joint venture flights.
- A combined trans-Atlantic network between the United Kingdom and North America with 31 peak-day round-trip flights.
- Enhanced benefits for customers including cooperation on services between New York and London, with a combined total of nine daily round-trip flights from London-Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
- Reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.
- Shared access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges for elite passengers.
The deal called for a $360 million investment in Virgin Atlantic by Delta. This will give Delta a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic airlines. Delta is purchasing the stake from Singapore Airlines. I find this interesting because at one point several years ago, you could redeem Delta SkyMiles for Singapore Airlines tickets, which you can no longer do. Back to the deal. Virgin Atlantic will remain a separate airline and retain its operating certificate.
Expanded Route Map For Delta Flyers
This is great news for Delta business travelers looking to cross the Atlantic. They’ll now have access to the longest flat bed in the sky on Virgin Atlantic operated flights. The two airlines will operate a total of 31 round-trip flights between North America and the U.K. each day. According to Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive, this means:
“Consumers will reap the rewards of this partnership between two great airline brands on services from the UK to the USA, Canada and Mexico through a shared ethos in the highest standards of customer service. This joint venture will deliver much more effective competition at Heathrow”
Coordination Across Flight Schedules And Operations
The joint venture will allow Delta and Virgin Atlantic to form a closer relationship to coordinate on schedules and operations by the end of 2013.
The airlines will file an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity, which will allow a closer relationship and coordination on schedules and operations…implemented by the end of 2013
Frequent Flyer Reciprocity
Both Delta and Virgin Atlantic flyers will be able to earn and redeem airline miles on both airlines.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic customers will be able to earn and redeem miles across Delta’s SkyMiles and Virgin Atlantic’s FlyingClub frequent flyer programs.
Club Lounge Access
Delta and Virgin Atlantic flyers will be able to access both airlines club lounges.
Premium customers also will have reciprocal access to the Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges. Full details will be announced as services become available.
Renovated Flight Product
Both airlines have recently completed or are in the process of completing major updates to their Business Class products. Delta has dedicated flat bed service from all major hubs to London. You can see the full list of dedicated flat-bed routes that Delta operates in my previous post.
As part of a $3 billion investment in enhanced global products, services and airport facilities, all of Delta’s flights between the U.S. and London-Heathrow feature full flat-bed seats offering direct aisle access in the BusinessElite cabin. These flights also offer Delta’s popular Economy Comfort seating in the forward section of the economy cabin. Economy Comfort offers four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline compared to standard economy seats. All cabins offer in-seat audio and video on demand with a broad range of in-flight entertainment options. Delta also will begin introducing in-flight WiFi service on international flights beginning in 2013.
Check out this cool interactive flash tour of the Virgin Atlantic Upper (Business) Class product to see the product if you haven’t flow them yet. I really like that bar in the sky.
Virgin Atlantic has recently completed a £150m upgrade program. A new Upper Class cabin has been introduced across its Airbus A330 aircraft, which features the longest fully flat bed in the sky. This is complemented by a redesigned onboard bar and new Clubhouses at both JFK and Newark airports. The airline’s Boeing 747 leisure fleet has been completely refitted and features onboard connectivity and VERA Touch – Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning touch screen in-flight entertainment system – offering passengers hours of entertainment at their fingertips.
Award Booking Fees
Virgin currently charges award booking fees for flights across the Atlantic. The details are not clear if these fees will continue and apply for Delta awards booked on Virgin Atlantic.
This joint venture will provide Delta flyers with an expanded route network from North American to London, access to Virgin Atlantic award flights and club lounges, and earning options with Virgin Atlantic operated flights.