Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Delta, Virgin Atlantic swap routes from London to U.S.

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways will swap two non-stop routes connecting London-Heathrow (LHR) to the United States in late October.

Effective October 26, Delta (NYSE: DAL) will begin operating one of two daily flights from LHR to Los Angeles (LAW) currently operated by Virgin Atlantic. The new service, for which the airline will use a Boeing 767-300ER (extended range) will be Delta’s first nonstop flight between LAX and LHR and will be Delta's seventh nonstop destination between London and the United States.

At the same time, Virgin Atlantic will begin operating one of Delta's three daily flights between LHR and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). The two airlines will codeshare on each other's operated services, allowing Delta and Virgin customers seamless access to the expanded network, the airlines said in a statement announcing the changes.

Airline officials touted the changes as demonstrable benefits of the partnership they entered into effective Jan. 1, 2014.

"It's great to see how our partnership with Delta is already proving fruitful to our customers," Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said. "In less than a year we will have co-located key business routes, delivered schedule changes to benefit our customers and provided enhanced experiences to our frequent fliers who gain from reciprocal lounge access and the ability to earn and burn [use frequent flier miles] across both carriers.”

Through the partnership, Virgin Atlantic will have access to ATL – the busiest airport in the world – for the first time, providing expansive and unprecedented access for Virgin Atlantic customers to connect to points throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  The airline will now be able to offer more than 100 additional international and domestic connections to its customers, bringing the total number of connections available through the partnership to more than 200.

"From the outset we said that our partnership with Virgin Atlantic was about improving services while offering more destinations and schedule choice," Ed Bastian, Delta president, said. "Expanding access to London's Heathrow Airport has long been at the top of Delta's list of priorities, while Virgin Atlantic has long wanted greater access to North America."

Virgin Atlantic’s LHR-ATL service, for which the carrier will operate an A330-300 aircraft, will depart LHR at 0925 (9:25 a.m.) and arrive at ATL on 1420 (220 p.m.). The return flight will depart ATL at 1730 (5:30 p.m.), arriving at LHR at 0635 (6:35 a.m.) the following day.

Delta’s LHR-LAX service will depart LHR at 1500 (3:00 p.m.) and arrive at LAX at 2031 (8:31 p.m.). Return flights will depart LAX at 2121 (9:21 p.m.), arriving at LHR at 1525 (3:25 p.m.) the following day.

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