Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines, Air France and KLM kick off joint venture

Throughout the year, the four airlines intend to synchronize and align their route scheduling to reduce layover times and "smooth" out the overall airport experience.

A Virgin Atlantic airliner (photo credit: VIRGIN ATLANTIC)
A Virgin Atlantic airliner
(photo credit: VIRGIN ATLANTIC)
Four major international airlines - Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines - have launched an expanded joint venture enabling them to offer more routes and loyalty opportunities to passengers traveling between Europe, the United Kingdom and North America.
The expanded airline alliance presents passengers with the flexibility to pick and choose trans-Atlantic, inter-European or domestic US routes through any of the four carriers and earn loyalty points that can be used across the board. Together, they are offering up to 341 daily flights (110 of which are non-stop), which is almost a quarter (23%) of total trans-Atlantic passenger and cargo capacity.
"The new partnership provides customers with more convenient flight schedules and the shared goal of ensuring a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline people fly," Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.
Starting February 13, the cross-company loyalty programs will be initiated, giving members the ability to earn and use miles or enjoy elite benefits on services offered by any of the four airlines. This allows frequent flyers to leapfrog into higher loyalty tiers and expedite the time it takes to reach an elite status, while avoiding the obligation to chain oneself to a specific airline. Additionally, elite program members will have the ability to enjoy any of the 100 lounges spread across the trans-Atlantic routes.
“Customers are at the heart of this expanded joint venture with our partners Delta, Air France and KLM, where seamless connections, a greater range of flights, unrivaled customer service and increased frequent flyer benefits will reinforce [the group's] position as the choice passengers most love to fly," Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said.
"One of the pillars of our strategy is successfully collaborating with our partners," Weiss said. "Combining our strengths, our network and our people allow us to achieve more together.”
The partnership is built around airport hubs such as Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, Paris, Seattle and Salt Lake City. The route list includes connections to 238 cities in North America, 98 in continental Europe and 16 in the United Kingdom, creating a path to nearly every corner of those regions.
“Ten years after starting our joint venture with Delta, this new agreement is a major milestone that will even further reinforce our presence on the Atlantic, by allowing our passengers the choice between four major airlines combining their network for the benefit of our customers," Air France-KLM Group CEO Benjamin Smith said in a statement. "For Air France-KLM, it also means greater access to the UK market and especially London Heathrow, the leading global travel market."
Throughout the year, the airlines intend to synchronize and align their route scheduling to reduce layover times and "smooth out" the overall airport experience. Additionally, customers will eventually have easy accessibility to pre-boarding services via any of the partner airlines' mobile apps or websites.
“Our expanded partnership is a major step forward for all of our airlines as we deliver greater reliability, top travel benefits and leading service that our customers deserve,"  Delta CEO Ed Bastian concluded. "Today’s launch brings our historic, longstanding collaboration to a new level, as we continue to build the partnership of choice across Europe and North America that sets us apart from the rest of the industry."