As part of the agreement Delta will be investing £223 million in Virgin Atlantic to acquire a 49% equity stock in the airline, currently held by Singapore airlines. The majority stake in the airline will be retained by Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson.
Steve Ridgway, the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said, ‘Consumers will reap the rewards of this partnership between two great airline brands on services from the UK to the USA, Canada and Mexico through a shared ethos in the highest standards of customer service. This joint venture will deliver much more effective competition at Heathrow.
Both airlines are confident that the Department of Transportation will be as convinced as we are of the extensive consumer benefits arising from this joint venture, with expedited approval being granted by the end of 2013.
The trans-Atlantic market is Virgin Atlantic’s heartland – it’s where we started. By aligning with Delta we can continue to grow our North American network and offer greatly enhanced connectivity across the USA.’
The new trans-Atlantic network will be offering 31 round-trip flights between UK and North America with a combined total of nine daily round-trip flights from London Heathrow Airport, in UK, to John F Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in US.
Delta chief executive officer, Richard Anderson, said, ‘Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the U.K., particularly on the New York-London route, which is the largest airline route between the U.S. and Europe.
By combining the strengths of our two companies in a joint venture, we can provide customers with a seamless network between North America and the U.K., and continue building a better airline for our customers, employees and shareholders.’