Battle lines drawn over the Pacific

The battle for domination of the trans-Pacific route between Australia and the west coast of USA has been intensified by the announcement of a joint venture between two of the competitors.
Delta Air Lines and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group have announced that they plan to seek regulatory approval to form a joint venture that will expand both carriers’ reach between the U.S. and Australia and the South Pacific.
The alliance will allow Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group to compete more effectively in those markets by collaborating on route and product planning, code-sharing on their respective networks and extending frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both airlines.
“Together, Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group will be a stronger and more effective competitor by offering consumers greater choice of destinations, frequencies and schedules, all on leading-edge aircraft,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president for network and revenue management. “For Delta, this agreement is a significant milestone in the expansion of our global network in the Australia and South Pacific region.”
“Virgin Blue and Delta make a tremendously exciting fit,” said Brett Godfrey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Virgin Blue Airlines Group. “Not only will we offer travellers many new benefits and possibilities, but also the alliance of two new entrant operators will ensure that vital competition is sustained on the trans-Pacific route.”
In advance of their joint venture, the carriers are moving forward to implement code-sharing, frequent flyer program reciprocity and lounge exchange privileges. Delta and the Virgin Blue Airlines Group today will file antitrust immunity applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation and with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Delta began daily non-stop service between Los Angeles and Sydney on July 1, 2009, with a Boeing 777-200LR. V Australia, a Virgin Blue Group airline, operates a daily non-stop Boeing 777 service between Los Angeles and Sydney, and service three times weekly between Los Angeles and Brisbane. A new, three times weekly service between Los Angeles and Melbourne is planned for September 2009.

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