Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air France and KLM have launched a new expanded joint venture.
The deal is designed to offer a greater choice of routes and loyalty options when travelling between Europe, the United Kingdom and North America.
The partnership provides customers with more convenient flight schedules and a shared goal of ensuring a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline people fly.
The deal also provides the flexibility to book flights on any of the four carriers through their respective mobile apps, websites, or via travel agents.
The news comes after Air France-KLM dropped a plan to buy one-third of Virgin Atlantic in December.
Two years ago, Air France-KLM agreed it would pay £220 million for the 31 per cent stake in its rival, removing control from Richard Branson, who founded the airline in 1984.
This was part of a wider partnership deal with Delta to create a global joint venture to tap into the lucrative transatlantic market and compete against low-cost rivals.
Air France-KLM later said it was “no longer necessary” to acquire the stake – but that this would not impact on the joint venture.
Starting from February 13th, enhanced customers benefits will kick in meaning that loyalty programme members will be able to earn and use miles or enjoy elite benefits for flights on any of the four airlines’ worldwide operations.
Eligible elite loyalty programme members can also enjoy priority boarding and relax in over 100 airport lounges when travelling internationally.
Other highlights include up to 341 peak daily trans-Atlantic services, covering the top ten routes on a nonstop basis.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive, Shai Weiss, said: “Customers are at the heart of this expanded joint venture with our partners Delta, Air France and KLM, where seamless connections, a greater range of flights, unrivalled customer service and increased frequent flyer benefits will reinforce its position as the choice passengers most love to fly.
“One of the pillars of our strategy is successfully collaborating with our partners.
“Combining our strengths, our network, and our people allows us to achieve more together.”
The joint venture will control around 23 per cent of total passenger and cargo trans-Atlantic capacity.
Delta chief executive, Ed Bastian, added: “Our expanded partnership is a major step forward for all of our airlines as we deliver greater reliability, top travel benefits and leading service that our customers deserve.
“Today’s launch brings our historic, longstanding collaboration to a new level as we continue to build the partnership of choice across Europe and North America that sets us apart from the rest of the industry.”