US airline takes 49% stake in Virgin

Giant American carrier Delta today took a 49% stake in Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic following the clearing of two regulatory hurdles in the way of the joint venture.

The link up was first announced last December and the deal has now got the go ahead from EU Commission and the US Department of Justice.

The joint venture still needs the green light from the US Department of Transportation.

All being well, the arrangement in which the two airlines will codeshare on a number of routes will begin in the first three months of 2014.

The link-up will mean Virgin will place its code on 91 Delta routes, including transatlantic and domestic US routes.

Delta will place its code of 17 Virgin routes, including Virgin’s recently-launched domestic UK services connecting London to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger said: “Today is an important day for Virgin Atlantic and our customers in both the US. and UK.

“As new shareholders in the airline, Delta is an important ally in the all-important trans-Atlantic market. We can stand firm together against the competition and can now offer more destinations, a smoother connecting airport experience and ultimately the best trans-Atlantic on board experience.”

The link up means the two carriers can challenge the British Airways-American Airlines link-up on lucrative transatlantic routes.

Delta is effectively replacing Singapore Airlines, which previously held a 49% stake in Virgin, as a venture partner.

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