Delta, Virgin Atlantic File for Antitrust Immunity as Part of Joint Venture, Plan Seattle-London Service

By Paul Riegler on 8 April 2013
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Virgin Atlantic and Delta aircraft at London-Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic and Delta aircraft at London-Heathrow

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic, which announced plans for a joint venture after Delta said it would acquire 49% of the carrier, filed for antitrust immunity with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The immunity would cover flights on both carriers between North American and the United Kingdom.

Delta and Virgin plan to operate a fully-integrated joint venture in which both airlines will share the costs and revenues from all joint-venture flights.  The joint venture will offer a total of 31 round-trip flights between the United Kingdom and North America with a total of nine daily round-trip flights from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports.

The two airlines told the DOT that close to 60% of the slots at London Heathrow Airport are controlled by the American Airlines/British Airways joint venture and that the JV “dominates” air travel between the U.S. and the U.K.    Delta and Virgin also said that their new joint venture will bring more competition to the market, in particular the highly competitive New York-London market.

Delta plans to begin non-stop flights between Seattle and London-Heathrow once antitrust immunity is granted.  The airline has a growing presence in the Seattle market.

Delta is already in a trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France KLM and Alitalia, all members of the SkyTeam alliance.  As a result, Delta and Virgin are seeking antitrust immunity for coordination between all five airlines for U.K.-North America traffic.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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