(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), which this week won European and U.S. antitrust approval to buy a 49 percent stake in Britain’s Virgin Atlantic VA.UL, said the two carriers plan to start cross-selling seats on each other’s flights.
The U.S. carrier next week plans to announce that it and Virgin Atlantic will begin “a significant cooperative relationship” including a code-sharing pact, Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson told staff in a recorded message on Friday.
A press conference is planned for Monday in New York to mark the closing of the transaction, Anderson added.
The venture must still be approved by the U.S. Transportation Department.
Atlanta-based Delta said in December it would buy the Virgin stake from Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI). Virgin founder Richard Branson will keep his 51 percent stake.
The Virgin alliance will allow Delta to dramatically expand access at London’s Heathrow, a key international business airport where gate constraints have limited growth. Anderson said in his recorded message that Delta plans to shortly announce daily non-stop flight service from Seattle to London Heathrow.
The venture will give Atlanta-based Delta the means to attract more lucrative corporate customers and increase competition with a venture between British Airways (ICAG.L) and AMR Corp’s AAMRQ.PK American Airlines that currently dominates travel between the United States and London.
Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta