ATLANTA and BRISBANE, Australia, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group (ASX: VBA) today announced they will implement their first codeshare flights beginning in January 2010. The flights mark the beginning of a previously announced marketing alliance between Delta and Virgin Blue's long-haul airline - V Australia - to offer customers access to more destinations across the Pacific as well as reciprocal airport lounge and frequent flier benefits.
Six routes are available for codeshare booking by Delta and V Australia customers for connecting travel. Virgin Blue customers may now book tickets for travel beginning Jan. 18 on Delta-operated flights between Los Angeles and Cincinnati, New York-JFK, Orlando and Salt Lake City. Delta customers may now book tickets for travel beginning Feb. 15 on Virgin Blue-operated flights between Sydney and Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia.
In addition to codeshare access, Delta SkyMiles members are now eligible to earn SkyMiles on V Australia and certain Virgin Blue domestic airline flights operated in conjunction with V Australia. Delta's BusinessElite customers, Platinum, Gold and Diamond Medallion members and Sky Club members also gain complimentary access to Virgin Blue lounges at airports throughout Australia. Virgin Blue's Velocity members are eligible to earn frequent flier miles for travel on Delta and gain complimentary access to 50 Sky Club locations around the world.
"Delta and Virgin Blue make exciting alliance partners for travel between the United States and Australia, and we look forward to welcoming Virgin Blue customers onboard our flights to and from L.A.," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president - Network and Revenue Management. "The launch of codesharing between our two airlines is the first step in our collective efforts to make it easier for Delta customers to travel throughout Australia and the South Pacific."
Added Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue's CEO, and co-founder: "Our aim is to make trans-Pacific travel as affordable and hassle free as possible, delivering seamless domestic and international connections between V Australia and Delta. Our guests can now book their V Australia and Delta flights at the same time through their travel agent, or via one of our Guest Contact Centres, from their origin point in either the USA or Australia all on one ticket."
In July, Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group announced plans to seek regulatory approval to form a joint venture to expand the carriers' reach between the U.S. and Australia. Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a final determination granting authorization to the airlines' joint venture, recognizing that the alliance will enhance competition on trans-Pacific routes.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved codesharing between the airlines and is currently reviewing the carriers' antitrust immunity applications. Given the nature of the agreement, which fosters competition, the airlines anticipate a favorable ruling soon.
Delta began daily nonstop service between Los Angeles and Sydney on July 1, 2009 using Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. The new service positioned Delta as the only U.S. airline to operate service to six continents. V Australia operates daily nonstop Boeing 777-300 service between Los Angeles and Sydney, and service three times weekly between Los Angeles and Brisbane and two times weekly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. The two airlines have significantly increased competition in the U.S.-to-Australia market which for years was dominated by two carriers.
About Virgin Blue
Virgin Blue Airlines Group, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, includes the nation's second largest carrier, multi-award winning Virgin Blue; international subsidiary airline Pacific Blue; Polynesian Blue, a joint venture airline with the Government of Samoa; V Australia, Australia's newest international airline; plus its holiday operation, Blue Holidays, and loyalty programme, Velocity. Together, Virgin Blue, V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue provide Australian domestic and international services to 45 destinations across New Zealand, the Pacific and also to and from North America, South East Asia and South Africa.
Delta Air Lines, the world's No. 1 airline, serves more than 170 million passengers each year. With its unsurpassed global network, Delta, its Northwest subsidiary and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 368 destinations in 66 countries on six continents. Delta employs more than 70,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of nearly 800 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France KLM. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 16,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline's service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, the world's largest airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and flight status at delta.com.
A portion of travel on some itineraries may be operated by Delta Connection carrier SkyWest Airlines.
All SkyMiles program rules apply to SkyMiles program membership, miles, offers, mile accrual, mile redemption and travel benefits. To review the rules, please visit delta.com/memberguide. Taxes and fees for award travel are the responsibility of the passenger and must be paid at the time the ticket is booked. Award travel seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or in all markets. All Delta Sky Club rules apply to Delta Sky Club use and membership. To review the rules, please visit delta.com/skyclub. Alliance partner airline benefits subject to change and subject to the terms and conditions of each partner. Offers and benefits subject to change without notice.
SOURCE: Delta Air Lines; Virgin Blue
Web site: http://www.delta.com/