Virgin Atlantic plans to form a new joint venture with China Eastern and Air France-KLM, which it says will “increase choice and connectivity across Europe and China”.
If the deal is approved, it will replace China Eastern’s current joint venture arrangement with Air France-KLM, who work together on routes across major hubs in Paris, Amsterdam and China.
Virgin said the announcement “reaffirmed” its commitment to the Far East, and comes shortly after Virgin marked 20 years of flying to Shanghai, China’s most populous city.
In the spring, Virgin will seek a codeshare agreement with China Eastern on flights between London and Shanghai.
Both carriers have a daily flight between Heathrow and Shanghai-Pudong airport, while China Eastern will later this month increase frequency on its three-times weekly Gatwick service to daily.
According to Virgin, the joint venture will open up China Eastern’s domestic network, which includes 188 destinations across mainland China.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer, said: “Our announcement regarding our intention to enter into a joint venture with China Eastern and Air France-KLM truly emphasises our commitment to China and our growing portfolio in the Far East.
“The move clearly reflects our mission to offer our customers enhanced connectivity and choice by working with the best partners in the business.
“We have a strong heritage of flying to China, and I’m delighted this announcement comes at a time when we celebrate 20 years of flying between London and Shanghai, further cementing our dedication to the region for another generation.”
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