Air France-KLM, Delta, And Virgin Atlantic Launch New Joint Venture

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Delta

The wait is finally over, and this joint venture, which has been in the works for years, is now live.

The proposed Air France-KLM, Delta, And Virgin Atlantic joint venture

Back in 2017 it was first announced that Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic, intended to launch a mega joint venture. At the time this was also supposed to involve Air France-KLM buying a stake in Virgin Atlantic, but Richard Branson has since backtracked on that.

Up until now Delta has had a joint venture with Air France-KLM, and a separate joint venture with Virgin Atlantic. With this change, the plan was for all three airline groups to form a single transatlantic joint venture, meaning that they could align fares and schedules across the board.

The process of actually launching a joint venture can take a long time. In August 2019 the joint venture was finally tentatively approved, and then it was formally approved in November 2019.

The joint venture is now live

The new Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic transatlantic joint venture launches today, Monday, February 3, 2020.

As the joint venture is described:

The new partnership provides customers with more convenient flight schedules and a shared goal of ensuring a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline people fly. The partnership also provides the flexibility to book flights on any of the four carriers through their respective mobile apps, websites, or via travel agents. Customers will enjoy award-winning service, top-tier premium cabin products and complimentary food, drink and seatback in-flight entertainment in all cabins on all trans-Atlantic flights.

With this joint venture we’re seeing:

  • Up to 341 daily transatlantic flights, covering the top 10 routes nonstop
  • Onward connections to 238 cities in North America, 98 cities in continental Europe, and 16 cities in the UK
  • A choice of 110 nonstop transatlantic routes

This joint venture represents roughly 23% of total transatlantic capacity, and combined revenue of about $13 billion annually.

Note that just because the joint venture is live doesn’t mean we’ll see a bunch of changes overnight. Later this year we’ll see the launch of more codeshares, we’ll see more schedules aligned, and we’ll see more cooperation at airports.

Just as the process of getting the joint venture approved wasn’t quick, don’t expect everything else to change overnight either.

Enhanced customer benefits coming February 13

Many have been wondering when the added reciprocal frequent flyer agreements will go live. We had reason to believe it would happen back in January, though it seems the timeline slipped.

It has now formally been announced that enhanced customer benefits start on February 13, 2020. This means that loyalty program members will be able to earn and redeem miles across the airlines, and will receive expanded benefits, like priority boarding and lounge access.

This has limited implications for Delta SkyMiles members, since Delta already has partnerships with Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic. Rather the biggest updates here will be for Air France-KLM Flying Blue members, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

Bottom line

It sure took a while to get to this point, but the new Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic joint venture is now live. In general expanded joint ventures aren’t good for consumers, since it’s the equivalent of eliminating a competitor in a market.

At the same time, there are some positive implications, like improved schedules and more opportunities for loyalty program members.

  1. Ummm how is eliminating a competitor good for consumers? All this means is a move towards monopolistic pricing in certain locations.

  2. Very curious whether the award rates will be same for using VS on KLM/AF as they are on the redemptions for DL. The taxes and fees obviously makes it less attractive than using DL, but having more options never hurt anybody.
    Weren’t there also rumours that VS will change the Flying Club earnings and redemptions in 2021?

  3. Does this mean that I can book a Virgin Atlantic flight to Paris flying Virgin Atlantic to London and then connecting on Air France to Paris or beyond on the same ticket?

  4. Sorry ignore earlier comment as i didn’t read all article and didn’t see this:

    “It has now formally been announced that enhanced customer benefits start on February 13, 2020. This means that loyalty program members will be able to earn and redeem miles across the airlines, and will receive expanded benefits, like priority boarding and lounge access.”

  5. Lucky, does the part about miles mean we’ll finally be able to earn SkyMiles on a KLM coded but VS operated flight?

    Before the rules said “Mileage earn only applies to KLM-marketed flights operated by KLM, KLM Cityhopper, and KLM coded SkyTeam partners.”. Since VS wasn’t SkyTeam partner you couldn’t earn SkyMiles when the flight was sold with a KL #.

  6. Other than being allowed to coordinate prices and share profits, which Air France/KLM and Delta were already doing, I don’t see how any of this is NEW news. All of the “benefits” have existed. Nothing is changing for Delta customers. I suppose only Virgin Atlantic and Air France/KLM customers really benefit since those airlines didn’t previously have cross-benefits.

  7. If only Westjet would join. They are still waiting for approval for the Delta JV, but a JV with the rest would be really useful.

  8. If Delta and Air France coordinate their pricing, and Delta and Virgin do as well, won’t that mean that they both did it before the combined joint venture?

  9. .. to that end, any update on the new Virgin and/or Air France/KLM redemption charts? You mentioned previously they were expected mid-Jan?

  10. Can I fly Premium Economy outbound and fly Virgin same class on the home bound ?
    Would there be a variation in price ?
    Will the XP calculation remain same?

  11. @ben What’s the difference between a ‘joint venture’ and ‘price fixing’?

    Will there be a way to monitor the inevitable price hikes from the ATL fortress hub? With that information we can at least call-out the inequity with our elected officials

  12. From a customer perspective even the current joint ventures are a joke. As a Delta Medallion less than Diamond you get a little discount but otherwise not even a seat in extra legroom economy. Likewise as a FlyingBlue elite you hardly get any upgrades on Delta…

  13. Many, many perfectly valid questions above. Another one, a biggie, is surely interlining of baggage. This is pretty much in my top 2 questions demanding clarity.
    Is the interim name for the JV ‘Flying Blind’ ?

  14. And yet, after all this, the new consortium falls short of one single airline operating out of the largest airport on the planet…Turkish Airlines, flys to more destinations than any other airline in the world, from the largest and most modern airport in the world.

  15. @Paul

    The difference is depending on who does it.
    Delta does it = JV
    ME3 does it = Price fixing.

    The elected official you are seeking is likely the same one who says ME3 received unfair subsidy but never said a thing about CN3.

    Case closed.

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