European regulators have approved Air France-KLM's planned acquisition
of a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic.
The acquisition, announced by the companies in July 2017, is
part of a broader arrangement proposed by Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM
to combine Delta's bilateral joint ventures with Virgin Atlantic and Air France
into a unified three-way transatlantic joint venture. Delta is already a 49% owner of Virgin
Under joint ventures, carriers receive immunity from antitrust
regulations, allowing them to jointly schedule, market and operate flights and
share revenue and costs.
The European Commission said it had reviewed the impact of
the Air France-KLM share purchase on the market for air travelers, with an eye
toward the fact that the acquisition will leave Air France-KLM, Delta and the
Virgin Group with joint control over Virgin Atlantic.
"Virgin Atlantic, Delta and Air France-KLM are not
close competitors and they continue to face significant competition from other
carriers on the routes where the activities of both airlines overlap," the
In an email, Virgin Atlantic said the merger approval will
result in a new codeshare agreement this spring between Virgin, Air France and
The carrier added that it expects regulatory approval of the
joint venture expansion "will be granted in due course."