Air France-KLM is buying 31% of Virgin Atlantic

Air France-KLM is buying almost a third of Virgin Atlantic, leaving Sir Richard Branson’s parent company, Virgin Group, with a minority stake in the airline he founded.

Air France-KLM is taking a 31% stake, worth £220 million, in Virgin Atlantic as part of a four-way joint-venture with US partner Delta. Virgin Group’s share will fall from 51% to 20%, while Delta will retain 49%.

Sir Richard said he would remain “very much involved” after the deal. He said in an open letter that the new joint-venture would be “extremely beneficial” to the airline, customers and the brand, and recalled key moments in Virgin Atlantic’s history, striking a valedictory tone.

Jean-Marc Janaillac, chief executive of Air France-KLM, said the deal would give customers “even more choice between Europe, UK and the United States via twelve hubs on both sides of the Atlantic”.

Virgin and Delta have operated a joint-venture for almost five years, plying the busy routes between Europe and the United States.

Competition has intensified in recent years, with newcomers including Norwegian and British Airways’ low-cost Level service offering no-frills long-haul flights.

The new venture, which will also include troubled Italian carrier Alitalia, will operate 300 transatlantic flights per day.

In a joint press release Virgin and its partners said the venture would offer “convenient flight schedules with competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers”.

Virgin Atlantic

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