Pending approval, Delta Air Lines is set to purchase a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic currently owned by Singapore Airlines. The Virgin Group would retain its 51 percent controlling interest in the company and the two airlines would continue to operate separately and independently. The deal will also include reciprocal frequent flyer benefits including airport lounge access. It’s not known yet if this means that Virgin Atlantic will join Delta’s airline alliance, SkyTeam.
Bottom line: If this deal goes through, it won’t be until the end of 2013. In the past, Virgin’s Richard Branson has been outspoken about not joining a global alliance, but we suspect that he’s come around to see them as inevitable.