Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways have welcomed the decision by the United States department of transportation to approve the carriers’ joint venture by granting antitrust immunity on routes between North America and the United Kingdom.
The ruling is confirmation of the clear consumer benefits of the partnership and will allow the airlines to deepen their cooperation, offering more flight choices for travellers on both sides of the Atlantic and in particular improving the travel options for business customers in the New York to London market.
Delta president Ed Bastian said: “We are delighted that the Department of Transportation recognises that the immunised partnership offers significant advantages to customers.
“The freedom to cooperate fully with Virgin Atlantic will initiate a new era of greater competition in the New York to London market - where it is much needed.
“We have a proven record in making joint ventures succeed and we look forward to building our relationship with Virgin Atlantic.”
In their filing to the DOT, Delta and Virgin Atlantic noted that nearly 60 per cent of the slots at London Heathrow Airport are controlled by British Airways and its joint venture partners.
As a result, the carriers dominate air travel between the US and the UK, including the New York-London market, the most important business market in the world.
By combining Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow slots and UK brand strength with Delta’s powerful US network, the joint venture will offer significant competition in the market and benefit consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.