Delta-Virgin Atlantic deal gets final approval

Delta Airlines (File/Reuters)

Delta Airlines (File/Reuters)

British airline Virgin Atlantic and U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines on Monday said their joint venture on routes between North America and Britain had been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

In their filing to the DOT, Delta and Virgin Atlantic argued that some 60 percent of the slots at London's Heathrow airport are controlled by IAG's British Airways and its partners and that Virgin-Delta should be allowed to compete on transatlantic routes.

Late last year Delta agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, creating a joint venture that would expand Delta's access to London's Heathrow Airport and increase competition in the lucrative transatlantic market.

From next March the two airlines will operate a total of 32 daily nonstop flights between North America and Britain, of which 24 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington.