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Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Air France-KLM-Delta to control Virgin Atlantic

Europe’s competition watchdog has cleared Air France-KLM to buy a 31% stake, while Delta keeps its 49%.

The European Commission has approved a deal that would give Air-France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Group joint control of the airline Virgin Atlantic.

The ruling by Europe’s competition watchdog allows Air France-KLM to buy a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic, stating that the deal would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area.

Delta has held a 49% stake in the UK-based Virgin Atlantic since 2013, when it bought Singapore Airlines’ shareholding in the carrier.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group kept hold of a 51% controlling interest, but Air France-KLM’s 31% share purchase now dilutes Virgin Group’s interest to just 20%.

Delta has also agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Air France-KLM.

Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia operate a transatlantic joint venture, which the three SkyTeam alliance members strengthened last year.

Better together
The European Commission ruled that although a limited number of overlapping routes exists between Virgin Atlantic, Delta and Air France-KLM, the airlines still face “significant competition” from other carriers on the routes.

In addition, the airlines’ combined slot portfolio at the UK’s London Heathrow and Manchester airports is unlikely to have a negative effect on passengers, the commission said.

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