Virgin to discuss JV options with Air France-KLM and Alitalia
Virgin Atlantic is planning to hold talks over a possible joint venture (JV) with Air France-KLM and Alitalia which would see Sir Richard Branson’s airline offer more routes to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to reports. Julie Southern, Virgin’s chief commercial officer, told the Financial Times the carrier was “very interested in exploring what further cooperation opportunities there are”, particularly with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. While “no detailed discussions” have taken place yet, Southern confirmed talks are due to take place in the coming months. Virgin Atlantic is already planning a joint venture with Delta Air Lines this year in a bid to challenge British Airways’ dominance of the London to New York market. A similar deal could be made between Virgin and Air France-KLM to open up more flights to Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Italian airline Alitalia could also be involved in the tie-up. There is speculation that Virgin is considering altering its business model and may drop its independence as it looks to return to profitability. Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Air France-KLM’s chief executive, said the Franco-Dutch group may consider a JV with Virgin on Asian and African routes. Delta, which is planning to take a 49pc stake in Virgin Atlantic, already has a partnership with Air France-KLM and Alitalia on transatlantic routes.