Delta Air Lines and Australia’s Virgin Blue Airlines Group will begin codesharing on four of Delta’s flights in January 2010. Codesharing between the two airlines begins on two of Virgin Blue’s flights in February.
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 now available for codeshare booking by Delta and V Australia customers for connecting travel. Virgin Blue customers may now book tickets for travel beginning on January 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 on February 15 on Virgin Blue-operated flights between Sydney and Brisbane and Melbourne.
In addition to codeshare access, Delta SkyMiles members are now eligible to earn SkyMiles on V Australia and Virgin Blue’s domestic airline flights. 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.
“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,” says Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue’s CEO, and co-founder. “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.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved codesharing between the airlines and is currently reviewing the carriers’ antitrust immunity applications. Delta says the airlines anticipate a favorable ruling soon.
Delta began daily nonstop service between Los Angeles and Sydney on July 1 using Boeing 777-200LRs. The new service positioned Delta as the only U.S. airline to operate service to six continents.
V Australia operates daily nonstop Boeing 777-300ER service between Los Angeles and Sydney, and flies three times a week between Los Angeles and Brisbane and two times weekly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. The two airlines say they have significantly increased competition in the U.S.-Australia market, which for years was dominated by two carriers, Qantas and United Airlines.
Virgin Blue Airlines Group, headquartered in Brisbane, includes among its companies Australia’s second largest carrier, 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 to and from North America, South East Asia and South Africa.