Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic announce new transatlantic partnership

On 3 February, 2020, partners Air France, KLM, and Delta, signed a formal agreement with one of the UK’s largest airlines - Virgin Atlantic - to form a new joint venture to offer travelers a much wider array of loyalty programs, routes, and options to make the trip across the Atlantic from North America to Europe, and back.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 touching down at Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX). Photo by Karam Sodhi | AeroNewsX

The new partnership allows the airlines to help streamline their customer’s traveling experience by allowing a greater flexibility of route options, flight times, and the ability to book through any four of the their websites, travel agents, and apps. Customers can take advantage of a great loyalty system partnership, access to airport lounges shared by all of the airlines, award-winning onboard products, food and drink, as well as complimentary seatback in-flight entertainment across all transatlantic flights.

According to a Delta press release, travelers can begin earning miles across all four of the airlines starting on 13 February, where they can earn and redeem miles to enjoy travel benefits and perks and help guests increase their loyalty status and medallion tiers.

An Air France Boeing 777 pictured at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo by Cole McAndrew | AeroNewsX

Other benefits and highlights from Delta include the increasing number of flights, up to 341 peak daily trans-Atlantic flights, covering the top 10 nonstop routes, connections to 238 cities in North America, 98 in Europe, and 16 in the U.K, and a choice of 110 nonstop trans-Atlantic route options between the carriers.

This upgraded travel network is available to cargo operations and customers to utilize as well, and is built around the hubs of all four carriers including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, Paris, Seattle and Salt Lake City. The new partnership will allow for more access to nonstop or one-stop connections to every part of North America, Europe, or the United Kingdom.

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said in response to forming the partnership in an official statement: “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, unrivalled customer service and increased frequent flyer benefits will reinforce its position as the choice passengers most love to fly. One of the pillars of our strategy is successfully collaborating with our partners. Combining our strengths, our network, and our people allows us to achieve more together.” 

Delta plans to announce more travel enhancements in the near future, and the streamlining of brand loyalty perks is just the beginning of a whole process geared towards streamlining more and more flight schedules for transatlantic connections, baggage transfer, as well as seat selection and flight check-ins to be offered universally on any of the airline’s apps.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian also commented on the new joint venture, saying: “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. 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.”

The Air France-KLM group CEO Benjamin Smith also weighed in his opinion on the deal: “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,” He also went on to say: “For Air France–KLM, it also means greater access to the U.K. market and especially London Heathrow, the leading global travel market.”

Some other interesting facts and figures to note from this event include the increase in the joint transatlantic market share between the four airlines to 23%. The reported combined total yearly revenue for the joint venture is around US $13 billion.

Currently, Delta, Airfrance, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic have a combined workforce of nearly 180,000 employees from around the world.

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