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AIR FRANCE-KLM HAS BOUGHT a 31 per cent stake in Vir­gin At­lantic in a move that will see closer co-op­er­a­tion be­tween the car­ri­ers plus Vir­gin part­ner Delta Air Lines.

Air France-KLM has spent £220 mil­lion on ac­quir­ing the stake from the Vir­gin Group, which will re­tain 20 per cent and chair­man­ship. Delta will re­tain its 49 per cent share in Vir­gin, while both Delta and Skyteam part­ner China East­ern will ac­quire a 10 per cent stake in Air France-KLM and join its board of di­rec­tors.

In ad­di­tion, Air France-KLM, Delta and Vir­gin At­lantic will launch a com­bined long-term joint ven­ture.

While Vir­gin will re­tain its in­de­pen­dence as a UK air­line, the move means Sir Richard Bran­son will give up con­trol of the car­rier he founded in 1984. In a let­ter to staff, he blamed Brexit but also pointed out that work­ing more closely with Delta would help Vir­gin to com­pete.

Delta says that the ex­panded joint ven­ture, in­clud­ing Al­i­talia, will of­fer nearly 300 daily non­stop transat­lantic flights. Pas­sen­gers will also be able to earn and re­deem miles across all the car­ri­ers. air­franceklm.com, vir­ginat­lantic.com

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