Delta has completed its purchase of a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic after being given clearance by US and European regulators last week.
The two airlines have also announced that they will begin selling eachother’s flights across their networks from June 29 as well as codesharing from July 3.
Delta will be putting its code on 17 Virgin Atlantic flights including routes from the UK to the US as well as Virgin’s new Little Red domestic services.
Meanwhile Virgin will be placing its code on 91 Delta routes covering both transatlantic and US domestic services.
Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said the completion of the Delta purchase marked a “fundamental turning point in the history of Virgin Atlantic”.
“We know that we will be bigger and better for our customers together,” added Kreeger. “The partnership with Delta will allow us to stretch our wings further and continue to keep innovating and offering award-winning service.”
The two airlines also plan to run a joint venture across the Atlantic which will challenge the existing British Airways-American Airlines business between the UK and the US.
Virgin and Delta still need to secure anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation to run its joint venture. This is expected to be completed by the end of this year with the joint venture due to start in the first three months of 2014.
Kreeger also insisted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would remain following the Delta deal.
“I whole-heartedly reiterate that the Virgin Atlantic brand will remain true to its roots,” he said. “We will be able to offer customers a much better network across the Atlantic and an expanded network within the US from our gateways.”
Ed Bastian, Delta’s president, added that the deal was "game changing" as it would allow Delta more access to business routes between London and New York.
“We have long wanted to get greater access to Heathrow but our options have been limited in the past, which is why we moved quickly when this opportunity came up with Virgin Atlantic," he said.
"We will offer business customers from JFK a real choice of services. Out of Heathrow, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will have 23 peak-time flights to the US including nine daily flights between New York and London.
"We will be able to compete more efficiently between the UK and the US particularly given the dominance of British Airways and American at Heathrow."