| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 30 Delta Air Lines Inc and
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd are on track to receive
immunity from U.S. antitrust laws to operate a planned
trans-Atlantic joint venture.
In a filing on Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation
said it had tentatively concluded that the alliance, which
involves Delta buying a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic,
would promote competition and would provide benefits to
consumers in the North America-United Kingdom market.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic announced the joint venture in
December. Delta agreed to buy the Virgin Atlantic stake from
Singapore Airlines for $360 million.
The deal would help Delta and Virgin better compete in the
market for business travelers, according to analysts, and also
would give them an advantage over American Airlines and US
Airways, whose merger is being contested by the U.S. Justice
Among the consumer benefits the airlines touted are
increased cooperation on flights from the United Kingdom to
North America, including nine daily round-trip flights from
London Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport
in New York and Newark Liberty International.
The Transportation Department concluded that the proposed
alliance would "ultimately create a strong, competitive
counterweight" to another joint venture known as oneworld, which
includes American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia.
The Transportation Department gave parties 14 days to lodge
objections to its conclusions. If no objections are made, it
said its tentative finding and conclusions would become final.
Delta shares rose half a percent to $19.73 on Friday.