A new transatlantic joint venture between Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air France and KLM has officially launched today.
The expanded agreement covers up to 341 peak daily transatlantic services across 110 nonstop routes, and represents 23 per cent of total passenger and cargo transatlantic capacity.
The JV brings together existing agreements between Air France, KLM and Delta, and between Virgin Atlantic and Delta.
It had originally been envisaged that the Air France KLM group would take a 31 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic as part of the tie-up, but in December it was announced that the Virgin Group would retain its 51 per cent holding in the carrier (with Delta owning the other 49 per cent).
From February 13 frequent flyer programme members will be able to earn and use miles, and enjoy elite benefits, “for flights on any of the four airlines’ worldwide operations, including a transatlantic trip, intra-Europe hop, or domestic US journey”.
A joint statement said that the new partnership “provides customers with more convenient flight schedules and a shared goal of ensuring a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline people fly”, as well as enabling “the flexibility to book flights on any of the four carriers through their respective mobile apps, websites, or via travel agents”.
The agreement will see the launch of new codeshare services going forward, as well as the alignment of schedules to reduce connection times. Customers will also “soon” be able to check-in and select their seat through any of the partner airline mobile apps or websites.
Commenting on the news Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Shai Weiss said:
“Customers are at the heart of this expanded joint venture with our partners Delta, Air France and KLM, where seamless connections, a greater range of flights, unrivalled customer service and increased frequent flyer benefits will reinforce its position as the choice passengers most love to fly.
“One of the pillars of our strategy is successfully collaborating with our partners. Combining our strengths, our network, and our people allows us to achieve more together.”