Australia’s Virgin Blue and US giant Delta plan a joint venture on the key trans-Pacific Sydney-Los Angeles route.
Delta began daily flights on the route only last week and has already submitted a joint plan with V Australia, Virgin Blue’s long-haul subsidiary, to aviation regulators. The submission seeks to create a revenue-sharing alliance on the route between the two airlines.
If approved by aviation regulators, the agreement would allow Delta and V Australia, to reschedule flights throughout the day rather than have their aircraft leaving at the same time, creating flexibility that would be especially attractive to business travellers.
The proposal would also allow codesharing on their respective networks and extend frequent-flyer programme benefits and lounge access.
The move would intensify pressure on Qantas and United Airlines, which also operate non-stop services on the route. Qantas operate two flights a day.
The proposal is similar to Qantas’ joint services agreement with British Airways on the “kangaroo route” between London and Australia, which allows the two carriers to share costs and revenue.
V Australia operates a daily non-stop Boeing-777 service between Los Angeles and Sydney, and a three-times weekly flight between Los Angeles and Brisbane.
The airline also plans to launch a three-times-a-week service between Los Angeles and Melbourne in September.
Delta is now the only US carrier to offer services to six continents.
A ruling on the proposal is expected before the end of the year.