Virgin Atlantic has unveiled a substantial increase in codesharing with Air France, Delta Air Lines and KLM on routes between Europe and North America.
The four airlines are planning to develop an expanded joint venture later this year. A deal in which Air France-KLM will buy 31% of Virgin Atlantic was approved by the European in February.
Virgin Atlantic is adding its VS code to Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM flights between the UK, Europe and North America ahead of a wider cooperation. (Transport Pixels)
Subject to final clearance from regulators in the USA, the carriers will become founding members of a $13bn transatlantic partnership operating flights between the UK, Europe and North America. Collectively they will offer more than 300 daily transatlantic flights over 108 non-stop routes to 340 destinations.
The carriers claim that "the partnership makes it easier for customers to build their ideal trip across the Atlantic by combining flights operated by Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Delta."
They go on say that booking a codeshare provides the benefit of seamless connections and a single booking reference - and will also enable customers travelling on codeshare flights to earn and redeem miles via their own airline loyalty scheme.
Virgin codeshare on Air France
Air France routes between Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle and Paris.
Air France routes between Paris and cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Virgin codeshare on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
KLM routes between Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Humberside, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, London City, London Heathrow, Manchester, Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle, Norwich and Amsterdam.
KLM routes between Amsterdam and cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Virgin codeshare on Delta Air Lines
Air France and KLM code on Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic routes between Belfast International, Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester and cities in the United States of America.
Editorial opinion: Partnerships and join-ventures outside of the major global alliances are all the rage at the moment as airlines seek to gain critical mass and attract higher-paying business travellers. Delta Air Lines already has anti-trust immunity for its two separate transatlantic joint ventures with Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM. The four airlines in the group are seeking to bring the arrangements together to form a single joint venture, enabling them to cooperate on frequencies and fares. The firms claim that the extended arrangements will enable them to compete with other major joint ventures such as that formed by British Airways and American Airlines.
Meanwhile, putting Virgin Atlantic's flight codes on Air France-KLM and Delta flights will broaden its appeal to its loyal customers. So far the moves have been confined to Virgin's current flights, but as the integration of Flybe / Connect Airways into the Virgin brand progresses it seems almost inevitable that the codeshares will be extended former Flybe services too. Virgin is likely to use Flybe to channel more passengers from the UK regions onto its own, Air France-KLM and Delta long-haul services between the UK, Europe and North America.
Whether it is all good news for what was Flybe remains to be seen though. Its difficult to see a newly allied grouping of Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic (through its Flybe subsidiary) would want to complete on services such as Birmingham to Amsterdam and Paris. It is quite possible that the Virgin-branded routes formerly flown by Flybe will be trimmed to remove that competition. This would also have the benefit of releasing precious slots at congested airports including Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Text © The Aviation Oracle