Delta, Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic Transatlantic Pact Gets Tentative Nod

Aug 2, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

US authorities have tentatively approved an expanded partnership between Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic across the North Atlantic.

The Department of Transportation plans to grant the four carriers antitrust immunity to form a joint venture. The partnership would allow the airlines to operate as essentially one between Europe and the US, including coordinating schedules and fares, jointly marketing and selling flights, as well as other commercial benefits.

The new partnership will replace two separate joint venture agreements: one between SkyTeam Alliance members Air France, Alitalia, Delta and KLM, and a second between Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

Delta spokeswoman Susannah Thurston says the airlines “welcome” the preliminary decision and expect final approval “shortly.”

The DOT’s approval comes with minor conditions. Alitalia and CSA Czech Airlines are dropped from the pact, something that is likely to have little effect as neither was part of the application filed in July 2018. Alitalia may seek to rejoin as an “associate member” in the future once it completes its restructuring, executives said in May.

Related: Alitalia May Soon Enter Joint Venture with Delta, Air France-KLM

In addition, the regulator will require the four airlines to make annual reports on the public benefits of the partnership. The DOT will also review the tie-up every five years.

The conditions are comparable to those placed on American Airlines and Qantas Airways, who received final approval of their long-sought joint venture between Australia and New Zealand and the US in July.

Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic argued that the joint venture will generate roughly $85 million in public benefits in their 2018 application. Benefits include an expansion of reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits and redemptions across the four carriers.

Related: A Guide to SkyTeam Award Tickets

The airlines also said they are committed to continuing to add routes across the Atlantic. In 2019, they have added five new routes, including between Amsterdam (AMS) and Tampa (TPA) on Delta, Manchester (MAN) and Los Angeles (LAX) on Virgin Atlantic, and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on Air France, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

The four carriers combined capacity between Europe and the US is scheduled to increase 3.4% year-over-year in 2019, Diio data shows.

More growth is planned for next year. Air France-KLM senior vice-president of North America Bas Gerressen told TPG in July that, while details were not finalized, the airlines planned to grow capacity to the US in 2020, including potentially to one of Delta’s five focus cities. Austin (AUS), Cincinnati (CVG), Nashville (BNA), Raleigh/Durham (RDU) and San Jose (SJC) in California are focus cities for Delta.

Related: Air France Unveils Updated Lounge at Washington Dulles

Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic first announced the expanded pact in July 2017.

Comments on the DOT’s preliminary decision are due by Aug. 16, with any further responses due by Aug. 27.

Featured image by Darren Murph / TPG.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.