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Virgin's Delta joint venture given preliminary approval

A Virgin Australia Airbus A330

BY JAMES WILKINSON

Virgin Australia’s joint venture with Delta Air Lines has been given a preliminary green light by the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT), with both carriers set to be granted antitrust immunity on the trans-Pacific route.

“We welcome the Department of Transportation’s proposed approval of our application for antitrust immunity with Delta, following the detailed review that was conducted,” said Virgin Australia Airlines CEO John Borghetti.

“Antitrust immunity will enable Virgin Australia and Delta to deliver a more attractive and competitive service for travellers in Australia and North America.

“The Delta alliance is a key plank in Virgin Australia’s strategy to build an international network of airline partners that offers global coverage.

“Guests on our award-winning international airline V Australia will be able to connect seamlessly to Delta’s extensive network of over 200 destinations in North America, including Canada and Mexico, and earn frequent flyer points in the process.

“The alliance will also be very positive for tourism in Australia, as there will be a clear incentive for both Delta and Virgin Australia to promote their product to a whole range of additional cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico,” he said.

Borghetti said under the joint venture, the airlines will collaborate on route, schedule and product planning, code-sharing on their respective networks, and provide frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both carriers.

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said: “Delta’s relationship with Virgin Australia will be extraordinarily enhanced thanks to the DOT decision, which opens the doors to an expanded network that will make travel between and within the U.S. and Australia easier and more convenient for our customers.

“Both airlines worked very hard to provide the DOT with the required documentation, and we applaud their interest and attention during this process,” he said.

The DOT will make a final ruling after public comment is sought on the proposed approval.

Virgin Blue was rebranded as Virgin Australia last week (May 4) for its domestic operations, with Pacific Blue and V Australia set to change name by year’s end.

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