Is Virgin Atlantic Looking to Merge?

Virgin Atlantic Airways says it has received a number of inquiries about potential partnerships with other airlines.

But the carrier is not commenting on airline inustry rumors of a potential merger with Delta Air Lines. And neither is Delta.

Virgin Atlantic hired Deutsche Bank AG last month to conduct a strategic review of its business after Sir Richard Branson, who owns 51 percent of the carrier, lost his bid to block a deal between American Airlines and British Airways that includes antitrust immunity from the U.S. Justice Department.

Alone among long-haul airlines in the western world, Virgin Atlantic is not a member of one of the three big airline alliances – oneworld, SkyTeam or the Star Alliance.

Delta is a SkyTeam member. Singapore Airlines, which owns the other 49 percent of Virgin, is a member of the Star Alliance.

At its annual investors' day this week, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said the industry could use some more consolidation, despite the two recent mega-mergers of Delta-Northwest and Continental-United.

But he added that joint ventures such as Delta's transatlantic partnership with Air France, KLM and Alitalia also offer economic benefits. Joint ventures will likely path that Delta follows in future deals, he said.

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