Updated January 2013
Delta Air Lines has long been a leader in airline alliances. In 1993, Northwest Airlines – which merged with Delta in 2008 – launched a leading trans-Atlantic alliance with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. And in 2000, Delta partnered with Air France, Korean Air and AeroMexico to create SkyTeam, one of the world’s premier global alliances.
Through these agreements, Delta and Northwest were able to quickly broaden the number of destinations available to customers. Northwest, for instance, had minimal service from the United States to Europe as recently as 1991, but became a major trans-Atlantic competitor through its partnership with KLM. Delta, meanwhile, worked with Air France to establish a joint venture with hub operations at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Following the merger of Delta and Northwest in 2008, these joint ventures became one and solidified Delta, Air France and KLM’s leadership position across the Atlantic.
In 2011, Delta and Virgin Australia began the work of implementing a joint venture on flights between the United States, Australia and New Zealand, opening up scores of new destinations for customers of both airlines. On Nov. 6, Virgin Australia was scheduled to relocate its arriving flights to Delta's Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport, further enhancing connections between the two airlines.
In 2012, Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced a proposed joint venture on flights between the United States, Mexico and Canada and the United Kingdom, which will greatly enhance competition at London's Heathrow Airport, which is one of the top business markets in the world. The airlines will begin building the joint venture following government approval, which is expected by the end of 2013.
In addition to the joint ventures, Delta works with dozens of codeshare and alliance partners to offer customers more flights to more destinations than could be offered on a standalone basis. Delta has three types of partnerships: Codesharing, the SkyTeam alliance and joint ventures.
Delta has codeshare partnerships with more than 20 airlines worldwide. These agreements allow Delta to sell fares, using its two-letter code (“DL”), on flights operated by other airlines and collect a portion of revenues for those seats. The reverse is true when partner carriers sell seats on Delta’s flights. Customers benefit by being able to access destinations where Delta does not operate service. The agreements also allow customers to earn and redeem SkyMiles on partner airlines' flights and use partner airport lounges around the world. Delta’s primary codeshare partners include Alaska Airlines (U.S. West Coast), Avianca (Colombia), Hawaiian Airlines (Hawaii), Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways (India), Royal Air Maroc (Morocco) and the Virgin Australia (Australia).
SkyTeam, headquartered in Amsterdam, has grown to become the world’s second-largest alliance in destinations and countries served, with 19 members. SkyTeam members include Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentines, AeroMexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Air. In addition to codesharing, SkyTeam partners coordinate airport connections while offering expanded lounge access, more frequent flyer benefits and consistent service at airports worldwide. SkyTeam members give customers the ability to book round-the-world travel on one ticket while earning multi-carrier frequent flyer awards. Via SkyTeam, Delta has introduced its brand into hundreds of markets where the airline previously had no presence. Additional information is available in the SkyTeam fact sheet.
With over 250 daily trans-Atlantic flights and a fleet of 144 aircraft, the joint venture between AIR FRANCE-KLM, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines provides customers with the benefits of a vast route network offering more frequencies, competitive fares and harmonized services on all trans-Atlantic flights. The JV network is structured around seven main hubs: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, Paris-CDG and Rome Fiumicino, together with Cincinnati, Lyon, Milan, Memphis and Salt Lake City. The JV offers customers access to 300 destinations beyond the 27 North American gateways and 200 destinations beyond the 31 European gateways throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America. The JV represents 26 percent of total trans-Atlantic capacity and generates $11 billion in expected annual revenues. In addition to the benefits of the SkyTeam alliance, the joint venture partners are protected by antitrust immunity granted by the U.S. and European governments allowing them to coordinate schedules and pricing. Costs and revenues and split among the partners for all joint venture flights. By building a fully integrated network across the Atlantic, the partners have significantly expanded service between the U.S. and Europe on key routes, resulting in lower fares and increased consumer choice. Since the birth of the joint venture, a number of U.S. cities have benefited from new or increased trans-Atlantic service. Some examples include: Atlanta-London-Heathrow; Minneapolis-St. Paul-London-Heathrow; New York-JFK-London-Heathrow; Portland-Amsterdam; Minneapolis-St. Paul-Paris; Detroit-London-Heathrow; Salt Lake City-Paris; and Memphis-Amsterdam.
Read more about the Delta Air France-KLM joint venture in the trans-Atlantic joint venture fact sheet.
In 2011, Delta received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a new joint venture with Virgin Australia. The two airlines are in the process of implementing the venture, which will make scores of new destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the United States available to customers of both airlines.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic will begin implementing a new joint venture between the United States, Canada and Mexico and the United Kingdom in 2013, pending approval from U.S. and E.U. authorities.
Read more about the proposed Delta-Virgin Atlantic joint venture here.