Delta Buys Stake in Virgin Atlantic

JOSHUA FREED | Associated Press

Delta Air Lines said it will buy almost half of Virgin Atlantic for $360 million as it tries to catch up to rivals in the lucrative New York-to-London travel market.

Delta plans to form a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic so they can sell seats on each other’s flights, share the costs and profits, and set the flight schedules in ways that help both airlines. American Airlines has a similar deal with British Airways.

Because Delta would be setting fares and schedules in coordination with an airline it used to compete with, it said it will need antitrust approval from U.S. and European regulators in order to form a joint venture.

Delta is aiming to have the joint operation running by the end of 2013.

Buckingham Research analyst Daniel McKenzie wrote that Delta needed to fix its shortfall of London flights in order to win more business travelers.

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