Delta buys 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 taxis at Miami International Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

December 11, 2012 5:29:10 AM PST
Delta Air Lines Inc. is buying almost half of British airline Virgin Atlantic for $360 million as it aims to boost its share of the lucrative New York-to-London market.

Delta says it will form a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, where the two airlines would share money from the flights operated under the partnership.

Sir Richard Branson will still own more than half of Virgin Atlantic, which will continue to fly as a separate airline under its own name.

Landing rights at London's Heathrow Airport are limited. So buying part of Virgin Atlantic will help Delta get a bigger piece of the travel market there.

The joint venture needs approval from U.S. and European regulators. Delta is aiming to have the joint operation running by the end of 2013.