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Delta, Virgin Atlantic plan to cross-sell tickets

Aircraft models are seen following a news conference to announce the sale of Virgin Atlantic airline to Delta Air Lines, in New York Decembe
Aircraft models are seen following a news conference to announce the sale of Virgin Atlantic airline to Delta Air Lines, in New York Decembe

(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines , which this week won European and U.S. antitrust approval to buy a 49 percent stake in Britain's Virgin Atlantic , said the two carriers plan to start cross-selling seats on each other's flights.

The U.S. carrier next week plans to announce that it and Virgin Atlantic will begin "a significant cooperative relationship" including a code-sharing pact, Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson told staff in a recorded message on Friday.

A press conference is planned for Monday in New York to mark the closing of the transaction, Anderson added.

The venture must still be approved by the U.S. Transportation Department.

Atlanta-based Delta said in December it would buy the Virgin stake from Singapore Airlines . Virgin founder Richard Branson will keep his 51 percent stake.

The Virgin alliance will allow Delta to dramatically expand access at London's Heathrow, a key international business airport where gate constraints have limited growth. Anderson said in his recorded message that Delta plans to shortly announce daily non-stop flight service from Seattle to London Heathrow.

The venture will give Atlanta-based Delta the means to attract more lucrative corporate customers and increase competition with a venture between British Airways and AMR Corp's American Airlines that currently dominates travel between the United States and London.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta)

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