The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission looks set to grant Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia authorisation to cooperate on routes.
The “draft determination” – which is proposed to initially last for a five-year period – could pave the way for passengers to take around-the-world trips on one Virgin-branded inventory.
The draft decision covers flights between Australia and the UK and Ireland, via Hong Kong, Los Angeles and “any other future mutual connecting points”.
Earlier this summer the ACCC granted the two carriers interim authorisation, which will remain in place until a final authorisation is announced.
In a statement the Commission said:
“Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic are separate businesses that do not operate overlapping services on any routes and are unlikely to do so in the future.
“They already have a codeshare arrangement, which allows each to market flights on planes flown by the other.
“Authorisation will allow the two airlines to coordinate on a wide range of matters, such as jointly managing prices, inventory, and marketing strategies, which are not currently permitted in their existing arm’s length commercial codeshare and loyalty arrangements.”
The ACCC’s Commissoner Stephen Ridgeway said that “In authorising this cooperation, we expect to see improvements to the carriers’ schedules and services to passengers”.
Virgin Australia is owned by a holding company whose stakeholders include Etihad Airways, Nanshan Group, Singapore Airlines, HNA Group and Virgin Group.
Earlier this year the European Commission approved a deal for Air France KLM to acquire 31 per cent of Virgin Atlantic from the Virgin Group, leaving Richard Branson with a 20 per cent share in the carrier. Delta retains a 49 per cent stake in the airline.