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Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways Welcome U.S. Department of Transportation decision to grant Antitrust Immunity

Monday, September 23, 2013 2:10 PM


Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways Welcome U.S. Department of Transportation decision to grant Antitrust Immunity

Airlines to create a dedicated flight schedule for business customers

ATLANTA and LONDON, Sept. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to approve the carriers' joint venture by granting antitrust immunity on routes between North America and the U.K. The DOT's ruling is confirmation of the clear consumer benefits of the partnership and will allow the carriers to deepen their cooperation, offering more flight choices for travelers on both sides of the Atlantic and in particular improving the travel options for business customers in the New York to London market.

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Ed Bastian, Delta's president said: "We are delighted that the Department of Transportation recognizes that the immunized partnership offers significant advantages to customers. The freedom to cooperate fully with Virgin Atlantic will initiate a new era of greater competition in the New York to London market ­where it is much needed. We have a proven record in making joint ventures succeed and we look forward to building our relationship with Virgin Atlantic."

In their filing to the DOT, Delta and Virgin Atlantic noted that nearly 60 percent of the slots at London Heathrow Airport are controlled by British Airways and its joint venture partners. As a result, the carriers dominate air travel between the U.S. and the U.K, including the New York-London market, the most important business market in the world. By combining Virgin Atlantic's Heathrow slots and U.K. brand strength with Delta's powerful U.S. network, the joint venture will offer significant competition in the market and benefit consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Craig Kreeger, Virgin's CEO added: "Today represents a huge opportunity for both Virgin Atlantic's passengers and our business. Our partnership with Delta means we will be able to offer convenient aligned schedules and a much broader network, giving the best possible travel choices and on board experience to trans-Atlantic passengers. For almost 30 years Virgin Atlantic has offered an award-winning experience and service to passengers traveling across the Atlantic, and today's ATI approval means we can build on this momentum and improve the consumer landscape at Heathrow for the better."

New schedule between New York-JFK and London Heathrow
With the customer at the forefront of their partnership, the airlines unveiled a new schedule for the competitive New York to London travel market designed with business travelers in mind and offering a total of nine daily nonstop flights. Effective March 30, 2014, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will operate a harmonized schedule between New York-JFK and London Heathrow featuring seven daily nonstop services at convenient time slots. The new schedule will include departures every 30 minutes during the early evening peak and then hourly until 22:30 from New York-JFK to London Heathrow and a spread of seven daily flights from London Heathrow to New York-JFK, including two late afternoon and early evening departures. These services will be complemented by two daily nonstop flights between Newark Liberty International Airport and London Heathrow.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will operate the following New York-JFK-London Heathrow schedule beginning March 30, 2014:

New York (JFK) – London (LHR)


London (LHR) – New York (JFK)

Depart

Airport

Depart Time

Arrival Airport

Arrival Time

Depart Airport

Depart Time

Arrival Airport

Arrival Time

JFK

07:40

LHR

19:40

LHR

09:05

JFK

11:50

JFK

18:30

LHR

06:50*

LHR

10:15

JFK

13:15

JFK

19:00

LHR

07:20*

LHR

11:30

JFK

14:25

JFK

19:30

LHR

08:00*

LHR

14:00

JFK

16:40

JFK

20:30

LHR

08:45*

LHR

16:15

JFK

19:05

JFK

21:30

LHR

09:25*

LHR

17:35

JFK

20:30

JFK

22:30

LHR

10:40*

LHR

20:05

JFK

23:00


*arrives the following day

The two airlines will work together to coordinate other schedule and network opportunities. Combined, the airlines will operate a total of 32 peak daily nonstop flights between North America and the U.K. of which 24 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington. Business customers will also benefit from a high-quality product: Delta and Virgin Atlantic's business class uniquely includes forward-facing full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access on every flight. In addition, both airlines will offer a premium economy product on its trans-Atlantic services.

Customers are already seeing improved travel options from the partnership as they are benefiting from codesharing across 104 routes offering seamless connections to 63 destinations across North America and the UK. The partnership also means that members of frequent flyer SkyMiles and Flying Club loyalty programs have more opportunity to earn and use miles/points, while Premium customers have reciprocal access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges. In addition, business class passengers receive priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Delta and Virgin Atlantic operated flights worldwide, including those outside of the codeshare agreement.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will unveil further product enhancements later in the year, appealing to the business customer and improving the travel experience of customers across the trans-Atlantic.

Notes to editors

  1. The new JFK-LHR schedule will be available for sale on Oct. 5, 2013.
  2. The two airlines will operate 32 peak-day round-trip flights between the U.K. and North America, 24 of which will depart from Heathrow Airport.  
  3. Full details of schedules, networks and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Delta Air Lines SkyMiles earn and burn programmes can be found at www.virgin-atlantic.com and www.delta.com.
  4. Further improvements and schedule updates will be announced in due course with both airlines continuing to invest in their services. Highlights of Delta's on-going $3 billion investment program include improved airport facilities, the roll-out of fully flat-bed seats across its entire international fleet with direct aisle access in BusinessElite cabins and more legroom and seat recline in Economy Comfort. Furthermore, all cabins offer in-seat audio and video on demand with a broad range of in-flight entertainment options while in-flight Wi-Fi services on international flights will begin in 2014.
  5. Virgin Atlantic has completed a £150m upgrade program. This includes a new Upper Class cabin across its Airbus A330 aircraft with the longest fully flat bed and a redesigned bar. It has opened new Clubhouses at JFK and Newark airports in the past year and launched its domestic service Virgin Atlantic Little Red in March 2013. It achieved record levels of on-time performance in 2012 and is the No. 1 airline in punctuality performance at Heathrow on the majority of its routes and out-performing its key competitor in 11 out of 12 months.

About Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. Delta was named by Fortune magazine as the most admired airline worldwide in its 2013 World's Most Admired Companies airline industry list, topping the list for the second time in three years. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 317 destinations in 57 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs nearly 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. The airline is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance and participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 15,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-LaGuardia, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. Delta is investing more than $3 billion in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Additional information is available on delta.com, Twitter @Delta, Google.com/+Delta and Facebook.com/delta.

About Virgin Atlantic 
Virgin Atlantic was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984. The airline flies over 5.5m passengers every year to 35 destinations worldwide, including locations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, south and east Asia, and Australia. Some of its most recent additions to its flying network include Cancun, Vancouver and Mumbai. 

Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed huge popularity, winning top business, consumer and trade awards from around the world and was recently awarded Best Long Haul Airline and Best Airline Lounge at The Daily Telegraph Ultratravel awards. The airline has pioneered a range of innovations setting new standards of service, which its competitors have subsequently sought to follow. Despite Virgin Atlantic's growth the service still remains customer driven with an emphasis on value for money, quality, fun and innovation.

Virgin Atlantic currently has a fleet of aircraft which includes 747-400s, A340-300s, A340-600, A330-300s and A320s. The airline is expecting delivery of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners from 2014.   

SOURCE Delta Air Lines

(Source: PR Newswire )
(Source: Quotemedia)

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