As you will presumably have read elsewhere by the time you see this, Delta has agreed to acquire the 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic owned by Singapore Airlines.
The price of £244m means that Singapore has taken a hit on its original £600m investment.
What is more interesting is what is NOT happening:
- The rumoured acquisition by Air France / KLM of Richard Branson’s 51% shareholding is not happening. This means that Delta remains a minority partner.
- The Virgin and Delta frequent flyer schemes are NOT merging
- Virgin is NOT joining the SkyTeam alliance at the moment
What IS happening is:
- Virgin and Delta will form a joint venture for their transatlantic routes, sharing revenues and changing timings and fares to effectively operate as one airline. This will mirror the American Airlines / BA transatlantic venture. Virgin and Delta will offer 31 daily flight to/from North America between them.
- Virgin and Delta’s frequent flyer schemes will have a reciprocal relationship. Virgin status will be valid on Delta and vice versa. Delta flyers can redeem on Virgin flights and vice versa. However, Virgin Flying Club members will NOT get access to full SkyTeam availability.
As I wrote in this post, I wanted Virgin to join Star Alliance. That is now out of the question, and the best you can hope for is that they join the ‘alliance of losers’ – SkyTeam.
This will give you the chance to redeem on some of the worst national carriers in the sky – when the best airline for redemption (combining availability and service) in your alliance is Korean Air, you know you’re in trouble ….
Here is the current Virgin route map, so you can see what Delta is getting (or, given it is buying 49%, not getting) for its money:
Just think ‘what could have been’ if Virgin had bought bmi and come into Star Alliance. In 10 years people will look back at that as THE great missed opportunity in recent British aviation history.
There may be one good thing to come out of this. Delta has historically been happy to hand out miles like sweets. There may be promotions where you can buy a pile of Delta miles cheaply and redeem for Virgin flights. They may not even add a fuel surcharge. If there is, you will read about it here!
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)