Delta Air Lines To Buy 49% Of Virgin Atlantic

by Continental Club on December 12, 2012

Delta Air Lines, the World’s largest air carrier by fleet size and passenger numbers, has announced that it intends to purchase the 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic which is currently held by Singapore Airlines.

The move has been widely rumoured for some weeks, with the confirmation coming almost simultaneously with the publication of the schedules for Virgin’s forthcoming UK domestic services to Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

These new routes will be operated with Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus aircraft and crew, in Virgin livery and uniforms.

Delta, part of the SkyTeam airline alliance which also includes European airlines such as Air France and KLM, will require regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation to develop what it and Virgin describe as ‘a transatlantic network’ joint-venture; approval which it’s further suggested could take up to 12 months to achieve.

The airline fully-completed its merger with rival Northwest Airlines in 2010, a process which took almost two years in total. The Northwest brand gave way to Delta, and the Northwest Worldperks frequent flyer programme was rolled into Delta’s SkyMiles. For its part, Virgin Atlantic promises its Flying Club members ‘some exciting changes’ ahead.

Singapore Airlines, which bought its stake in Virgin Atlantic for GBP600m/SGD1.18bn in 1999, appeared to be a fairly benign influence on their British investment, but the description of Delta’s USD360m/SGD440m purchase suggests rather more involvement from the new US partner in future.

The proposed sale does not directly affect the operations of Virgin Australia and Virgin America, which are separate companies from Virgin Atlantic.

For more information, visit virginatlantic.com

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