At long last …. and this saga has been going on for over two years …. the final box has been ticked.
Late last week, the US Department of Transportation approved the creation of a joint venture for transatlantic flights between Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM. This is despite strong lobbying by JetBlue which was hoping to acquire Heathrow landing slots as part of a trade off to improve competition (it failed).
This was the last hurdle delaying the acquisition of a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic by Air France – KLM.
With European Union approval already granted, the final agreements can now be implemented. Going forward, the shareholding of Virgin Atlantic will be:
- Delta Air Lines 49%
- Air France – KLM 31%
- Virgin Group 20%
The transatlantic JV replaces an existing joint venture between Delta, Air France, KLM and Alitalia. Alitalia has been dumped, which is another blow to its already weak financial position.
The deal allows the four airlines to co-operate on transatlantic routes. This means that they can legally work together to fix flight schedules, fares and frequent flyer benefits.
All revenue from transatlantic flights by any of the four airlines goes into a pot and is shared out. If you fly Virgin Atlantic to New York, a chunk of your money will be given to Delta and Air France – KLM, and vice versa.
What does this mean for Virgin Flying Club?
This agreement was the last hurdle before Virgin Flying Club could begin offering Air France and KLM flight redemptions.
These are now expected soon – how soon I don’t know.
At the same time, I would expect all Air France and KLM flights to earn miles and tier points in Virgin Flying Club. Alternatively, you should be able to credit Virgin Atlantic flights to Flying Blue if you wish.
I know that a lot of UK-based Head for Points readers have Flying Blue accounts, especially those based outside the South East. You now have an interesting decision to make – should you drop Flying Blue and start crediting your flights to Virgin Flying Club?
Until we know the exact ‘earn and burn’ rates there is no easy answer. It will also depend on how much flying you do on other SkyTeam partner airlines. Whilst you will be able to credit Air France and KLM to Virgin Flying Club, you won’t be able to credit Korean, Alitalia etc.
We’ll give you our advice as soon as we know what is happening, and when. It will be an interesting 2020, and if Virgin Flying Club gets this right it will substantially increase its attractiveness versus British Airways Executive Club.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles. That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)