10 July 2009

Virgin Blue and Delta seeking approvals for joint venture

On 9 July 2009 Virgin Blue Airlines Group and Delta Air Lines announced that they would be seeking regulatory approval for a joint venture between the United States, and Australia and the South Pacific. The airlines are looking to collaborate "... on route and product planning, codesharing on their respective networks and extending frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both airlines."

Regulatory filings are being made with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the US Department of Transportation (DoT). It will be possible to follow the ACCC process here NEW on its Authorisations Register and the US DoT process here UPDATED on Regulations.gov UPDATED

As announced on 23 March 2009, Virgin Blue long-haul subsidiary V Australia is already interlining with Delta. V Australia announced on 3 June 2009 that it would also be also be interlining with Virgin America.

V Australia commenced operations from Australia to Los Angeles (LAX) on 27 February 2009, having had its start up delayed by the Boeing strike. Delta commenced operations from LAX to Sydney (SYD) on 1 July 2009.

Given the ACCC's January 2009 rejection of a tie up between Air New Zealand and Air Canada (see previous post) and the US Department of Justice submission on the application of Continental Airlines to join the Star Alliance and cooperate on trans-Atlantic services (see Docket), this new case should be an interesting one to follow. On 10 July 2009 the Sydney Morning Herald carried a story on the prospects.

Singapore, on behalf of Singapore Airlines, has long been seeking fifth freedom rights from Australia to enable it to compete on the Australia-US route. It already has the necessary rights with the US under the MALIAT.

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