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Delta Acquires 49 Percent Stake in Virgin Atlantic and Marks the Date with New Codeshare and Frequent Flyer Partnership

Delta and Virgin Atlantic acquire merger clearance from the EU Commission and U.S Department of Justice and add 66 destinations for customers

(June 24, 2013) – Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. today detailed a codeshare agreement across 108 routes that offers customers seamless connections to 66 destinations across North America and the U.K.

Today’s codeshare announcement coincides with Delta acquiring a 49 percent stake in Sir Richard Branson’s airline – marking the next step towards a full joint venture between the two carriers. Virgin Atlantic will place its code on 91 Delta routes, including both trans-Atlantic and domestic U.S. routes. Delta will place its code on 17 Virgin Atlantic routes, including the recently launched Little Red domestic U.K. services connecting London to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The agreement includes the following customer benefits:

  • Virgin Atlantic customers will now enjoy a vast network of connecting North American destinations while Delta customers will gain an additional six daily frequencies between London to New York
  • SkyMiles and Flying Club loyalty programs that will offer up to 125% tier bonus miles to frequent fliers on all Delta and Virgin Atlantic flights – not just those within the codeshare agreement
  • Reciprocal Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse access at applicable airports for Upper Class and BusinessElite passengers and Flying Club Gold members and SkyMiles Platinum and Diamond members
  • Priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Virgin Atlantic and Delta operated flights worldwide – not just those within the codeshare agreement – for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members as well as Delta BusinessElite and SkyMiles Gold, Platinum and Diamond members

“This is a strategic investment that enhances Delta’s network with greatly improved access to London Heathrow, the leading marketplace on the trans-Atlantic,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s president. “As we unite two leading global airline brands in an innovative partnership that focuses on delivering enhanced benefits and services for our customers, we also become a more formidable competitor across the Atlantic.”

Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic CEO said; “Today is an important day for Virgin Atlantic and our customers in both the U.S. and U.K. 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. Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning customer experience is loved around the world and we look forward to sharing our unique Clubhouse and in-flight hospitality with many Delta passengers over the years.”

The two airlines announced their intention to enter into a joint venture agreement in December 2012. Last week unconditional merger clearance was granted by the European Commission and the U.S Department of Justice closed their review of the transaction. As of today, Delta has successfully completed its acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic. The U.S Department of Transportation is currently reviewing the parties’ application for antitrust immunity relating to the proposed joint venture of the parties’ operations on nonstop routes between the US and the UK. This review is expected to be completed during third quarter of 2013, and the implementation of the Delta/Virgin Atlantic joint venture is anticipated to occur in the first quarter of 2014. Once implemented, this will deliver further significant additional consumer benefits and vibrant competition to the trans-Atlantic market.

Customers will be able to reap the rewards of the reciprocal codesharing beginning July 3, 2013, when travel across the routes begin. Flights can be booked from June 29, 2013. In the future, corporate and travel agency customers of both airlines will also benefit from an aligned sales effort on both sides of the Atlantic. Full details of the codeshare announcement can be found at www.virgin-atlantic.com and www.delta.com.

As part of a $3 billion investment in enhanced global products, services and airport facilities, all of Delta’s flights between the U.S. and London-Heathrow feature fully flat-bed seats offering direct aisle access in the BusinessElite cabin. These flights also offer Delta’s popular Economy Comfort seating in the forward section of the economy cabin. Economy Comfort offers four additional inches of legroom and 50 per cent more recline compared to standard economy seats. All cabins offer in-seat audio and video on demand with a broad range of in-flight entertainment options. Delta also will begin introducing in-flight WiFi service on international flights beginning in 2014.

Virgin Atlantic completed a £150m upgrade program, including a new Upper Class cabin across its Airbus A330 aircraft in 2012 – with features including the longest fully flat bed in the sky and a redesigned on board bar. Brand new Clubhouses opened at both JFK and Newark airports in the past year and have received awards for innovation and design. The airline launched its domestic service; Virgin Atlantic Little Red in March 2013 and is now flying 26 daily frequencies to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen from Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic achieved record levels of on time performance in 2012 and is the number one airline in punctuality performance at Heathrow on the majority of its routes and out-performing its key competitor in 11 out of 12 months.

For more information and to read the full news release, please click here.

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