Details will emerge in the coming weeks about the cargo aspect of the Delta Air Lines/Virgin Atlantic Airways joint venture announced earlier this week. Delta is investing $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring the 49 percent stake currently held by Singapore Airlines.
The statement released by the two airlines provided no mention of the cargo aspect of the deal, but a cargo agreement is anticipated.
“We expect to have the opportunity to collaborate on cargo operations in the future,” said Russell Cason, Delta spokesman.
A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic Cargo said: “We’re very excited by the news and looking forward to working with Delta in the future. Right now, the proposed joint venture only covers the passenger operation, so in terms of cargo it’s business as usual. Having said that, we will explore scope for cooperation going forward.”
Highlights of the agreement include:
• A fully integrated joint venture that will operate on a “metal neutral” basis with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues from all joint venture flights.
• A combined trans-Atlantic network between the United Kingdom and North America with 31 peak-day round-trip flights.
• Enhanced benefits for customers including cooperation on services between New York and London, with a combined total of nine daily round-trip flights from London-Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
• Reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.
• Shared access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges for elite passengers.
The airlines will file an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity, which will allow a closer relationship and coordination on schedules and operations. The U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union’s competition regulator and other relevant authorities also will review the transaction. The two airlines expect that the share purchase and the joint venture will be implemented by the end of 2013.
“Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the U.K., particularly on the New York-London route, which is the largest airline route between the U.S. and Europe,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson.