Following Delta’s purchase of 49% of Virgin Atlantic, the two airlines are determined to challenge the long held dominance of British Airways & American Airlines on flights between Heathrow & New York.
As with British Airways & American Airlines, the new Delta / Virgin Atlantic pairing is set to be granted anti-trust immunity which will allow the two airlines to co-ordinate slots and schedules as well as sharing revenue. The new joint venture is set to come into being in early 2014 and will be the first serious challenge to the British Airways / American Airlines partnership which accounts for around 50% of traffic between London & New York, the world’s single most important airline route.
Code sharing between Delta & Virgin commences on 3rd July with Virgin Atlantic placing its code on 91 Delta flights and the US carrier placing its flight number on 17 Virgin flights, including the new short-haul routes between Heathrow and both Edinburgh & Manchester.
Between them, the 2 airlines operate 23 daily flights between Heathrow & the US including 9 daily flights between Heathrow and New York JFK.
Delta’s President, Ed Bastian, has also indicated that they are seriously looking into new, direct flights between Heathrow & Seattle, a service that British Airways currently holds a monopoly on, although there was no indication of whether these flights would be operated by Delta or Virgin (we would assume the latter).