Air France, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Virgin Atlantic

What the Virgin Atlantic deal with Air France / KLM / Delta / Alitalia (?) means for you

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It was reported yesterday that there is a new joint venture seeking approval in Europe that involves AirFrance/KLM, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia if it isn’t bankrupt by then.

The details are:

* Air France-KLM will acquire a 31 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic currently held by Virgin Group for £220 million

* Virgin Group will retain a 20 percent stake and Chairmanship

* Delta will retain its 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic

One very nice line in the release states: The long-term joint venture would offer convenient flight schedules with competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers. (bolding mine)

This would be pretty sweet since, while Virgin Atlantic is redeemable with Delta miles (at a hefty rate but without Virgin’s very high surcharges – at least for now) as well as some other partners like Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer, they are not part of any of the three global airline alliances.

It doesn’t appear (though it’s not out of the question) that Virgin would be joining the Skyteam alliance that Delta, AF/KLM, and Alitalia are all a part of. But what this would mean is a new use for Air France Flying Blue miles.  This is especially nice since FlyingBlue is a transfer partner of all four transferable currencies.   What remains to be seen is what the surcharges will be on Virgin awards using FlyingBlue miles – and I suspect they will be more rather than less.

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