BOSTON (CBS) — Sir Richard Branson, the world’s best-known man in aviation, now has a new partner.
Delta Air Lines now owns 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic Airways and that means more changes will most likely happen on Boston’s number one international route.
British Airways, Delta and Virgin offer six daily flights from Logan to London’s Heathrow Airport this summer.
British Airways flies more than 50-percent of passengers flying to the UK. The flights are important for both business and leisure travelers. Great Britain also sends more visitors to New England than any other European country.
Under the new arrangement, the new code-sharing agreement will allow Delta to sell seats on Virgin flights by the end of the year. Virgin passengers will be able to connect to Delta flights in the U.S.
Delta passengers will be able to earn miles on Virgin Atlantic flights.
Delta operates in Terminal A at Logan Airport while Virgin uses Terminal E. Whether Virgin will transfer its operations to Terminal A remains to be seen. Delta is a member of The Sky Team Alliance.
The agreement gives Delta the chance to expand at Heathrow Airport where more gates will now be available. That is especially important for its New York operations; Delta is also a partner with Air France and their flights to Paris.
Next year the merger between American and US Airways should be completed. At that time, US Airways will move from the Star Alliance to the Oneworld Alliance that includes British Airways. This summer American dropped their flights to London and BA increased its service.
Alliances and code-sharing agreements are important for frequent business travelers that like to accrue mileage points for family leisure travel.
Virgin America, which is a separate company, will continue to fly routes from Boston to the West Coast. The airline was the first to offer Wifi on its flights.
Delta has been upgrading its Business Class service that now includes flat beds. Virgin features an Upper Class product. Both airlines have been increasing their on-board entertainment options.
Virgin Atlantic has its U.S. headquarters in Norwalk Connecticut.
All Things Travel reports with Bob Weiss can be heard on WBZ News radio