Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK-based carrier to join the global SkyTeam airline alliance in what it called a “significant milestone” in its recovery from the Covid pandemic.
The carrier is already in a joint business venture with SkyTeam members Delta and Air-France-KLM, but from January it will join the alliance to open up a new range of benefits for members of its frequent flyer scheme, Flying Club, some of whom will have access to more than 750 airport lounges around the world. It also also good news for SkyTeam passengers who can use Virgin facilities.
Other reciprocal perks for passengers include extra baggage allowances when flying with other airlines in SkyTeam, whose line-up includes AeroMexico, Korean Air and AirEuropa.
The announcement also poses a further challenge to struggling British Airways and its parent IAG.
Delta recently three new UK routes, including Edinburgh-Atlanta and Heathrow-Los Angeles.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “The pandemic has taught us the strength of partnerships is profound.”
He went on: “At Virgin Atlantic we strive to create thoughtful experiences that feel different for our customers, and SkyTeam shares that customer-first ethos.
“2022 marks the year Virgin Atlantic gets back to its best for our customers and people, and joining SkyTeam is an important milestone.
“Our membership will allow us to enhance established relationships with our valued partners at Delta and Air France-KLM, as well as opening up opportunities to collaborate with new airlines.
“It will enable a seamless customer experience, with an expanded network and maximised loyalty benefits.”
Kristin Colvile, chief executive of SkyTeam, said: “As a member of SkyTeam, Virgin Atlantic will benefit from increased opportunities to expand its global network through partnerships and synergies: customers will have more ways to earn and burn miles while enjoying the service for which Virgin Atlantic is renowned.
“Virgin Atlantic shares SkyTeam’s values, caring for our customers, our employees, and the world in which they live, and we are excited to have them as part of the SkyTeam family.”