On June 20, 2013, the European Commission approved Delta Airlines’ proposed acquisition of a 49% minority shareholding in Virgin Atlantic, completing its Phase I investigation. Delta is acquiring this stake from Singapore Airlines, whilst the Virgin Group is retaining its existing 51%. Delta and Virgin will now enter into a fully integrated joint venture, bringing together their passenger operations between the U.K. and U.S.
Virgin and Delta currently operate overlapping non-stop services on the London-New York and London-Boston routes. Additionally, Delta operates one-stop services on a further 10 of Virgin’s transatlantic routes, out of both London and Manchester. Following its Phase I investigation, the European Commission was satisfied that the combined entity would continue to face a strong competitive constraint on all overlapping routes, particularly from the British Airways – American Airlines joint venture. Moreover, the evidence presented to the Commission highlighted that Virgin and Delta are not particularly close competitors, instead viewing British Airways and American Airlines as their primary rivals.
A team from CRA led by Cristina Caffarra and comprising Raphaël De Coninck, Pierre Régibeau, Daniel Donath, Gareth Shier, and Gerhard Dijkstra advised Virgin throughout the process in Europe; whilst a team from CRA’s Washington, DC office also assisted Virgin on the US aspects of the deal.