Delta Air Lines is set to lose its Australian partner carrier in 2022, as Virgin Australia is preparing to partner with United Airlines from April 2022. Virgin Australia says the partnership with United “will triple” its reach into the Americas region, while also extending United’s reach into Australia. The partnership between the two carriers will include codesharing cooperation, and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits for members.
For United, the carrier now flies daily from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, while flights from Houston, and that to Melbourne, will resume later in 2022. Virgin does not fly to the United States, with Reuters reporting that the carrier ended flights to Los Angeles in 2020.
Virgin says the sale of codeshare flights with United will begin in “early 2022,” followed by the Australian carrier’s other international partners. The sale of these codeshare flights was halted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The United States is a key market for Virgin Australia, and we know Australians are excited to be able to travel overseas again, so we’ve created hundreds of new ways they can do that through United’s extensive services to and from Australia,” says Virgin Australia’s group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka. “Virgin Australia customers will have significantly more options for travel from Australia to the States, with more than three-times as many services available to them, which is great news for Australian travellers.”
Virgin’s statement also did not specify if it will seek government approval for an airline alliance with United.
In a separate statement, Virgin Australia thanked Delta for the partnership that has been around “for over a decade,” where “millions of customers” were flown between Australia and the United States.
“We’d like to thank Delta Air Lines for their long-standing commitment and relationship with Virgin Australia. 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,” says Hrdlicka.
While Delta has yet to release a statement on the ending of its relationship with Virgin Australia, a search on the American carrier’s news hub shows that the two carriers entered into an alliance in 2009, and that the alliance was renewed until 2020.