Where we fly is as important to our customers as how we fly. And we’re working to connect the dots across the globe to allow you to book with Delta to get virtually anywhere on earth. What’s also important, though perhaps less evident, is that we connect those dots in a way that also works for our business. We intend to be an airline you can rely on not just tomorrow, but also in the years to come.
This requires a strategy beyond buying shiny new planes and plotting the course on the map. Connecting globally means finding great partner airlines around the world – brands that have great networks of their own that fill in the white spaces on the Delta map.
Delta has just announced our next steps for connecting more dots on the map with more frequency for our customers: We’re forming a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic Airways, pending government approvals. It’s the latest in series of steps we’ve been taking to build a truly global airline network. The partnership combines the strengths of two U.K.-to-North America networks to offer 31 peak-day round-trip flights connecting the U.S., Canada and Mexico to the U.K. In New York, that means nine daily round-trips flights to Heathrow instead of just three – something we know makes a world of difference for our business customers.
As seen in the verbal sparring between carriers, competition at London’s coveted Heathrow airport is fierce. There is no free entry or expansion because take-off and landing rights, called slots, are tightly controlled, extremely expensive and rarely available. The solution: Delta and Virgin Atlantic partnering to offer customers a greatly expanded network at Heathrow despite the limited access to slots.
We’re no novices when it comes to making these partnerships work. Our joint venture with Air France-KLM began more than a decade ago and was the first of its kind. We’ve also recently made investments in GOL and Aeromexico, which provide vital connections throughout Latin America. We have a joint venture with Virgin Australia that better connects the U.S. to Down Under. And, we’ve partnered with Alaska Airlines to offer a strong Western U.S. gateway in Seattle.
Today,Delta’s joint venture with Air France-KLM includes Alitalia and offers great connections to Europe through major hubs in Paris,Amsterdam and Rome. But the New York to London market – arguably the world’s top business route – remained underserved. By teaming up with Virgin Atlantic, we’ll fill the London gap. And you’ll be able to book beyond Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic throughout the UK and throughout Europeon more than 95 Air France, KLM and Alitalia flights that carry the Delta code.
To make this even better for customers, our joint venture partnerships go beyond your ability to book via Delta on these flights. These partnerships reap benefits for flyers in the form of one-stop booking for corporate accounts and seamless connections that in most cases don’t require schlepping long distances between terminals as well as the ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and enjoy the benefits of airport lounges from Minneapolis to Manchester.
Our team is always on the lookout for the next great move to be able to carry you to more places worldwide. Our agreement with Virgin Atlantic is the latest step in that direction.
Holden Shannon, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy