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.
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."