Delta seeks to increase Australia offerings

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced it plans to seek approval for a joint venture with Virgin Blue Airlines Group in Australia for flights between the U.S. and Australia and the South Pacific.

Delta started flying to Australia this month with daily nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Sydney. Virgin Blue Group carrier V Australia also operates daily nonstop Los Angeles-Sydney flights as well as thrice-weekly Los Angeles-Brisbane flights, and plans to begin Los Angeles-Melbourne flights in September.

The two carriers plan to file applications for antitrust immunity with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The alliance would allow the two carriers to collaborate on route planning. In advance of the joint venture, the airlines are planning a code-share marketing partnership, frequent flier program reciprocity and shared airport lounge privileges.

Delta already has a joint venture with the Air France-KLM group and in May announced an expansion of the deal, which allows them to share revenues and costs on trans-Atlantic flights and cooperate on other international routes.