Delta investing $1.2 billion in three foreign partner airlines

Travers make their way in the domestic terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Travers make their way in the domestic terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Delta Air Lines is re-upping its investments in its international partner carriers that have filed for bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The value of Delta’s billions of dollars in investments in the three carriers were zeroed out due to those foreign carriers’ bankruptcy filings.

Now Atlanta-based Delta is investing another combined $1.2 billion in its partners Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico and LATAM as they emerge from bankruptcy restructurings.

Delta said Monday its investment will maintain its 49% equity stake in U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic and that it aims to have a 20% stake in Mexico’s Aeromexico and 10% in Chile-based LATAM. Some creditors in Aeromexico’s bankruptcy case have criticized the airline’s restructuring proposal, according to news reports.

Delta spent $360 million for its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2012. It had owned about half of Aeromexico and took a $770 million charge on the investment after Aeromexico’s bankruptcy filing. It previously had a 20% stake in LATAM that it acquired for $1.9 billion in 2019.

“The work each of our partners has done to strengthen their businesses for the future makes these partnerships even more valuable,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a written statement.

Airlines like Delta with global networks depend on partnerships with foreign airlines to extend their reach beyond international hub cities.

Many foreign carriers struggled in a fight for financial survival as borders closed around the world because of the pandemic. While the size and breadth of the United States allows American airlines to rely on domestic travel to fuel much of their business, carriers in other countries often generate less money on domestic routes.

The rise of the delta variant of COVID-19 earlier this year stalled rising hopes of a recovery in international flying. The recent spread of the omicron variant threatens to further delay a rebound in cross-border travel.

Delta Chief Financial Officer Dan Janki said in a written statement that “investing in our partners now — even as we continue to navigate the pandemic — is the right choice to support Delta’s long-term strategy.”

The airline said there is no change in its investments with partners Air France/KLM, Korean Air and China Eastern.