Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin plan transatlantic joint-venture

Posted July 30, 2017

Air France-KLM also is deepening its commercial relationship with China Eastern, which is acquiring a 10 percent stake in Air-France-KLM.

Delta, Air France-KLM, China Eastern and Alitalia are members of the SkyTeam alliance. "Bringing together the strengths of Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic into a combined joint venture will create the trans-Atlantic partnership of choice for customers".

Delta Air Lines and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to almost 370 destinations on six continents. Air France-KLM said the China Eastern investment will "secure and reinforce" its presence in the Chinese market thanks to the associated long-term partnership as well as give it a European leadership position in Shanghai.

A wholly owned overseas arm of China Eastern has inked a share purchase agreement with the Paris-based airline for the goal.

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The planned creation of an airline Supergroup, while retaining individual brands and corporate structures, would replace two existing ventures between Delta and Virgin Atlantic, and Air France-KLM and Alitalia.

The French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM announced Thursday it was taking a 31 percent state in Britain's Virgin Atlantic for 220 million pounds ($287 million, 246 million euros).

The announcement will be seen as a direct challenge to the expanded owner of British Airways, IAG, which also has the Iberia and Aer Lingus operations in its stable and dominates slots at Heathrow. Passengers will also be able to earn and redeem miles across all the carriers.

Alitalia, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings, is also mentioned as being part of the new joint venture, although there were no details about any possible new ownership.

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However the Virgin Group will keep a 20% stake, and Mr Branson will remain the largest individual shareholder.

The deals likely will require regulatory approval and anti-trust immunity to allow coordination on pricing and other business matters, and probably won't be finalized for another year, the carriers said.

The role of Alitalia, now facing bankruptcy proceedings, was not clear, though it remains a part of the joint venture with Delta and Air France-KLM.

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