Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines Cleared for Australia U.S. Routes

15th Aug 2015

Only months after another Australian-American carrier alliance (Qantas-American Airlines) announced new flights on the trans-Pacific routes, Virgin and Delta have finally been given regulatory approval for their alliance on Australia-U.S. routes.

The approval comes as the Australian carrier and one of its top shareholders Etihad have filed an application with the ACCC to prolong their Australia-Europe alliance for another ten years.

Since it announced the partnership with Virgin in 2010, Etihad has nearly doubled flights between Australia and UAE to 39 per week and, according to estimates, there is still some potential for growth here.

When it comes to Virgin's alliance with the American carrier, the ACCC has granted a 5-year extension, half as much as the airlines requested. The regulator said it has granted a shorter extension due to "ongoing evolution of the services on the trans-Pacific and the dynamic nature of the aviation industry".

Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission explained the regulator acknowledged passengers will likely value the carriers' integrated network between the two continents.

Sims also said:

"The alliance has also resulted in enhanced products and services. Including increased and better connections, access to each other's flights and better schedule spread, loyalty program benefits, and improved lounge access."

Virgin operates daily flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles, while Delta flies every day between L.A. and Sydney. Together, the two airlines amount to about 37 per cent traffic share on the Sydney-Los Angeles route.

In the meantime, Qantas and American Airlines are not sitting by idly on their trans-Pacific alliance either, as the American carrier is looking to open a daily route exactly between Sydney and L.A. The carrier has not flown between these cities since the 1990s. AA said it will use Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the route.