Steering an Airline Joint Venture

Holland & Knight’s Aviation Team obtained antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a joint venture between our client, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Delta Air Lines. Approval for this high-profile transaction enables the carriers to create a joint business on routes between North America and the United Kingdom.

Holland & Knight’s Aviation Team obtained antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a joint venture between our client, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Delta Air Lines. Approval for this high-profile transaction enables the carriers to create a joint business on routes between North America and the United Kingdom.

This joint venture is part of a larger transaction, in which Delta replaced Singapore Airlines as a 49 percent minority shareholder in Virgin Atlantic. (The Virgin Group retains its 51 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic.) As a result of the joint venture, the two airlines will share costs and revenue, and will coordinate routes, schedules and prices on their trans-Atlantic flights. The carriers now have a harmonized schedule between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Heathrow Airport in London, and their 32 daily nonstops will include flights to the U.K. from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta.

As U.S. regulatory and commercial counsel for the Virgin Atlantic, Holland & Knight worked with the carrier's legal team to evaluate strategic options — including other potential business alliances — from a regulatory and competition law standpoint. We also partnered with legal teams for both Delta and Virgin to map out a complex regulatory strategy, which included securing approvals from the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice for the share transaction. In addition, Holland & Knight participated in the drafting of the commercial agreements related to the partnership and briefed Virgin Atlantic's board of directors and shareholders throughout the process.

Holland & Knight has more than 75 years of experience in aviation law, and assists clients with a wide range of transactional, regulatory and litigation matters associated with their operations.

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