Delta Air Lines and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group announced today they plan to seek regulatory approval to form a joint venture that will expand both carriers’ reach between the U.S. and Australia and the South Pacific.
The alliance will allow Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group to compete more effectively in those markets by collaborating on route and product planning, codesharing on their respective networks and extending frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both airlines.
“Together, Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group will be a stronger and more effective competitor by offering consumers greater choice of destinations, frequencies and schedules, all on leading-edge aircraft,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president for network and revenue management. “For Delta, this agreement is a significant milestone in the expansion of our global network in the Australia and South Pacific region.”
“Virgin Blue and Delta make a tremendously exciting fit,” said Brett Godfrey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Virgin Blue Airlines Group. “Not only will we offer travelers many new benefits and possibilities, but also the alliance of two new entrant operators will ensure that vital competition is sustained on the trans-Pacific route.”
In advance of their joint venture, the carriers are moving forward to implement codesharing, frequent flyer program reciprocity and lounge exchange privileges. Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group will file antitrust immunity applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation and with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Delta began daily nonstop service between Los Angeles and Sydney on July 1, 2009, with a Boeing 777-200LR equipped with 180-degree, full-flat beds in its BusinessElite class. V Australia, a Virgin Blue Group airline, operates a daily nonstop Boeing 777 service between Los Angeles and Sydney, and service three times weekly between Los Angeles and Brisbane. A new, three times weekly service between Los Angeles and Melbourne is planned for September 2009. The three class airline offers 33 Business Class fully lie-flat beds, 40 Premium Economy club seats and 288 economy seats plus two in-flight bars.
About Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is the world’s No. 1 airline. From its hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam and Tokyo-Narita, Delta, its Northwest subsidiary and Delta Connection carriers offer service to 382 destinations in 69 countries and serves more than 170 million passengers each year. Delta’s marketing alliances allow customers to earn and redeem either SkyMiles or WorldPerks on more than 16,000 daily flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta’s more than 70,000 employees worldwide are reshaping the aviation industry as the only U.S. airline to offer a full global network. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and flight status at delta.com.
About Virgin Blue
Nine-year old Virgin Blue Airlines Group carries 18 million guests annually and comprises Australia’s domestic airline Virgin Blue, Long Haul international airline V Australia, New Zealand-based Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue*, a joint venture airline with the Government of Samoa. Together the airlines operate a fleet of 80 modern Boeing 737-NGs, Boeing 777 and Embraer E-Jet aircraft flying to 28 Australian and 13 international destinations in the U.S., South Pacific and Southeast Asia. The airline group is much acclaimed for outstanding guest service. Recently, Virgin Blue was awarded Australia’s highest national customer service accolade. The airline was acknowledged as having the highest customer service standards of any organization at the 2008 Australian customer Service Institute Awards.
Also in 2008 Australian travel agents again voted Virgin Blue Australia’s “Best National Airline” and “Best Regional Airline” at the annual National Travel Industry Awards (NITA). Velocity, the airline’s loyalty program, was recently awarded 2009 “Program of the Year” in the global Freddie Awards, which recognize the world’s most outstanding airline frequent flyer programs.
*Polynesian Blue is not included in the joint venture alliance.