The long-term partnership between Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines is being suspended amid the consequences of the global health crisis. The Australian carrier is going through a restructuring process after it entered voluntary administration in April. Additionally, Australia’s international services remain heavily restricted. Therefore, Delta last week told its staff that it will halt the alliance for the time being.
Nearly a decade together
The two airlines have held a partnership since 2011 on services across the Pacific Ocean. However, according to The Points Guy, on September 4th, Delta sent a memo to its employees, stating that coordinating schedules will be put on hold. Nonetheless, the pair plan to resume the joint venture once demand picks up and Virgin has sorted out its structure.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson also told Simple Flying his company is an important long-term strategic partner for Delta, and it has remained in close contact with it throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the airlines will pause their joint venture activity until Virgin Australia resumes long-haul international flying, customers will continue to earn and redeem miles and access elite benefits on Virgin Australia flights as they do today,” the spokesperson told Simple Flying.
“Once demand recovers and Virgin Australia resumes long-haul international flights, we would anticipate restarting our joint venture relationship.”
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Currently, Delta flies it’s Boeing 777-200 aircraft to Sydney three times a week from Los Angeles. These services will be performed with Airbus A350-900 planes in November as the airline lets go of its 777s. Furthermore, it is looking to fly daily to Sydney again from next year.
There is hope for Virgin Australia following the confirmation that private equity firm Bain Capital is now the owner of the carrier. This move will bring the airline closer to exiting administration and will allow it to focus on returning to a stronger position.
Like Delta, the 777 will not be a feature in Virgin Australia holdings in the future. The airline will be dropping its widebodies as it reverts to operating solely 737 narrowbodies. Along with the slimming of its fleet, the operator will also reduce its workforce by roughly 3,000 employees. This figure accounts for approximately a third of its staff.
A difficult situation
It is a significant challenge for airlines operating in Australia at the moment. There is a ban on most foreigners from entering the country due to the pandemic. There are only exceptions for emergencies. Additionally, those who can enter the country have to quarantine for 14 days.
Other national carriers such as Qantas are suffering severely we a result of these conditions. Meanwhile, international airlines such as Qatar Airways have also expressed their frustrations with the present climate.
Simple Flying also reached out to Delta Air Lines about the partnership but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further information.
What are your thoughts about the two airlines suspending their partnership amid the current conditions? Do you feel that this is a good move? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.