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Delta Air Lines buys 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic

Plan to cooperate on services between New York and London, with a total of nine daily round-trip flights from London Heathrow to JFK International Airport and Newark International Airport

   Wednesday 12-Dec-2012  | Mumbai

U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines said it had bought Singapore Airlines' 49 percent stake in Britain's Virgin Atlantic for $360 million and agreed a transatlantic joint venture with Virgin.

Virgin and Delta on Tuesday said under the joint venture they would share costs and revenues on routes between Britain and North America.

The pair plan to cooperate on services between New York and London, with a total of nine daily round-trip flights from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

"Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the U.K., particularly on the New York-London route, which is the largest airline route between the U.S. and Europe," said Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson.

The airlines said they would file an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for competition clearance and that the deal would need to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union's competition regulator as per a Reuters report.

The deal will enable Delta to expand at London's Heathrow airport, a lucrative hub for corporate passengers where landing slots are generally hard to acquire. Virgin is the second-largest carrier at Heathrow after IAG's British Airways.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, is operating at close to full capacity after Britain's coalition government blocked its expansion in 2010.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he would retain his 51 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic and maintain the brand of the airline he founded in 1984.

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