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Virgin Australia Airlines (ASX: VBA) today welcomed the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT’s) proposal to grant antitrust immunity (ATI) to its proposed joint venture with Delta Air Lines on the trans pacific route.
Receiving ATI is a key component of an integrated alliance between Delta and Virgin Australia Airlines, enabling the two airlines to provide guests with an expanded network of destinations, seamless connections, a more convenient flight schedule and more opportunities to earn frequent flyer points and access lounges.
Under the joint venture, the airlines will collaborate on route, schedule and product planning, codesharing on their respective networks, and provide frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both carriers.
Virgin Australia Airlines CEO John Borghetti said: “We welcome the Department of Transportation's proposed approval of our application for antitrust immunity with Delta, following the detailed review that was conducted. Antitrust immunity will enable Virgin Australia and Delta to deliver a more attractive and competitive service for travellers in Australia and North America.”
“The Delta alliance is a key plank in Virgin Australia’s strategy to build an international network of airline partners that offers global coverage. Guests on our award-winning international airline V Australia will be able to connect seamlessly to Delta’s extensive network of over 200 destinations in North America, including Canada and Mexico, and earn frequent flyer points in the process.
“The alliance will also be very positive for tourism in Australia, as there will be a clear incentive for both Delta and Virgin Australia to promote their product to a whole range of additional cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico”, Mr Borghetti said.
Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said: "Delta's relationship with Virgin Australia will be extraordinarily enhanced thanks to the DOT decision, which opens the doors to an expanded network that will make travel between and within the U.S. and Australia easier and more convenient for our customers.
"Both airlines worked very hard to provide the DOT with the required documentation, and we applaud their interest and attention during this process”, Mr Anderson said.
The DOT is expected to make its final ruling following public comments on the proposal. If final approval is granted, the airlines will move quickly to implement the joint venture.
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About Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia Airlines (ASX: VBA), formerly the Virgin Blue group of airlines, was launched in 2000 as the first sustainable low-fare airline in Australian skies. It has established a global reputation as an innovator and leader in the aviation industry; renowned for the warmth of its people and the quality of the service they provide.
Starting out as a single airline operating a single route with just 200 team members, today the group employs over 7,000 people and includes multi-award winning domestic airline Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue); international long-haul airline V Australia, international subsidiary airline Pacific Blue; and Polynesian Blue, a joint venture airline with the Government of Samoa.
Virgin Australia Airlines is currently in the process of re-launching its domestic and short-haul international product, and both V Australia and Pacific Blue airlines will operate as Virgin Australia by the end of 2011. The group also includes multi-award winning frequent flyer and loyalty program, Velocity, and holiday arm, Blue Holidays.
Virgin Australia operates a fleet of 89 modern Boeing 737, 777 and Embraer E-Jet aircraft flying to 32 Australian and 16 international destinations including the USA, Abu Dhabi, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.
Virgin Australia has an alliance with the award-winning Etihad Airways, providing guests a one-stop service to Europe, and has recently announced partnerships with Air New Zealand and Skywest Airlines which will see it expand its footprint in the South Pacific and regional Australia.
About Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year, and was named by Fortune magazine as the most admired airline worldwide in its 2011 World's Most Admired Companies airline industry list. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 346 destinations in 64 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta 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 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline’s service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, the world’s largest airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Delta is investing more than $2 billion through 2013 in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at delta.com.