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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.
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.