Virgin Atlantic plans to forge a joint venture with China Eastern and Air France-KLM to increase choice and connectivity between Europe and China.
The plan reaffirms the airline’s commitment to Asia and Shanghai as a destination, which recently celebrated 20 years of Virgin Atlantic flights.
If approved, the new deal would formally replace the current joint venture China Eastern has with Virgin Atlantic’s future partners, Air France-KLM, who already work together on flights between Paris, Amsterdam and China.
Virgin Atlantic plans to codeshare on China Eastern services between London and Shanghai from spring 2020.
The proposed joint venture will allow passengers to take advantage of China Eastern’s domestic network, which includes 188 destinations across mainland China.
Other benefits being touted include the opportunity to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles across both carriers on flights between the UK and China.
Virgin Atlantic and China Eastern both run daily flights between Heathrow and Shanghai-Pudong.
China Eastern also aims to increase three flights a week from Gatwick to a daily service later this month.
Since starting to serve Shanghai in 1999, Virgin Atlantic has operated more than 12,000 flights and carried over 2.5 million customers.
Chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “Our announcement today 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 that 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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