Preparations begin ahead of ATI application
Delta Air Lines and the Australian Virgin Blue Airlines Group have today (July 9) announced plans to seek approval for a joint venture.
The tie-up would allow Delta and the Virgin Blue Group to collaborate on routes between the US and the South Pacific.
"For Delta, this agreement is a significant milestone in the expansion of our global network in the Australia and South Pacific region," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vp for network and revenue management.
Both airlines have said they will begin to code share ahead of their application for anti-trust immunity (ATI) with the US Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Delta and Virgin Blue will also begin to co-operate on their frequent flyer and lounge access programmes in preparation for the joint venture.
The venture could see Virgin Blue Group's long haul carrier V Australia and Delta "product plan" on routes between Melbourne and Sydney and Los Angeles to be launched this year.
Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue Airlines Group's ceo, said: "The alliance of two new entrant operators will ensure that vital competition is sustained on the trans-Pacific route."
Delta began its first flight to Australia on July 1 with a daily non-stop service between Los Angeles and Sydney.
V Australia hopes to launch a three times weekly service between Los Angeles and Melbourne in September.
The Virgin Blue Group includes Australian domestic airline Virgin Blue, long haul carrier V Australia and New Zealand-based Pacific Blue.
Virgin Blue Group member Polynesian Blue, already a joint venture with the Samoan Government, will not be part of the Delta agreement.
The US DoT is already considering ATI applications which could allow greater transatlantic co-operation between members of airline alliances.
This week the Star Alliance hit back at claims made by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that granting ATI to new member Continental Airlines was "likely to result in harm" (see ABTN News July 8).