Delta to continue Sydney-LA without Virgin

The loss of longtime partner Virgin Australia won’t deter Delta from maintaining its sole trans-Pacific route.

By David Flynn, December 14 2021
Delta to continue Sydney-LA without Virgin
Executive Traveller exclusive

Virgin Australia may be abandoning Delta Air Lines for the embrace of rival United Airlines, but Delta promises it won't abandon Australia.

The Atlanta-based carrier and SkyTeam member's partnership with Virgin stretches back over a decade, beginning with a codeshare arrangement in January 2010 which in  2011 became a more extensive joint venture business with coordination of schedules and fares

However, its sole Australian route throughout this time has been on the corridor between Sydney and Los Angeles, which was recently upgraded to a modern Airbus A350 crowned by the airline's flagship Delta One Suites in business class.

Delta's Sydney flights feature its private Delta One business class suites.
Delta's Sydney flights feature its private Delta One business class suites.

ET review: Delta One Suites business class, Sydney-Los Angeles

Following this morning's shock news that Virgin would switch its US partnership to United Airlines to "replace the airline's current codeshare and frequent flyer relationship with Delta Air Lines in 2022", a spokeswoman for Delta told Executive Traveller that Sydney would remain on the airline's map.

"Delta's operations in Australia are not impacted by the termination of the agreement with Virgin Australia, and we continue to operate nonstop service to/from Sydney," the spokeswoman confirmed.

Delta competes with US rivals American Airlines and United Airlines between Sydney and Los Angeles, along with Qantas and, until early 2020, Virgin Australia itself.

Winding down the Virgin/Delta partnership

Intriguingly, the spokeswoman added that "Delta's partnership and codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia will end in June 2022" – a timeline seemingly at odds with Virgin's statement of its alliance with United "commencing in April 2022," but which the spokeswoman desctribed as "part of a transition period agreed between DL and VA."

"We remain in discussions with Virgin Australia on transitions and next steps and are working together to ensure a smooth experience for our customers."

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka noted that "as a strategic partner with Virgin Australia for many years, Delta Air Lines has shared a wonderful journey with us, and we appreciate and value the many achievements we made together."

Virgin says it will "honour all Delta customer bookings, and all Delta customers booked on Virgin Australia services will continue to enjoy all current benefits of the partnership."

"Velocity and SkyMiles Points/miles and Status Credit earn and redemption will also continue. Further details regarding the wind down of the Delta partnership will be announced in early 2022."

Obviously making money, so why not keep going?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 74

I'm wondering if Rex will jump in and try to partner with them for some benefits. Can't do any harm, even if they don't have a FF program yet, it would give them some extra flow on transit traffic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 539

Anything to add a little angst to Rex's 2 largest competitors, what's the downside?

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 7

With Delta gone, and United in - I wonder if this is a step towards Virgin becoming a Star Alliance member? And, if so - what would Air NZ think of this now that it's in bed with Qantas. 

What's clear though is that Virgin Atlantic (partially owned by Delta) and Virgin Australia have never been less in synch. I say this because I always assumed the 2 Virgin airlines would eventually join Skyteam under Delta's sponsorship. 

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