Delta Air Lines Open to New Ventures amid Final Stages of Consolidation

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Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said the carrier's joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia has had the "economic effect of merging" and will serve as a template for future accords.Delta executives declined to comment today during a webcast investor conference about a Sky News report that Delta was among carriers exploring a tie-up with Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., which has hired Deutsche Bank AG as an adviser.Delta's SkyTeam Alliance global marketing group has sought new partners including China Airlines so they can sell seats on each other's flights and gain service within regulatory limitation. Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia have an even deeper arrangement that lets them coordinate fares and schedules for trans-Atlantic flights."The economic growth is going to be outside the U.S., and so I think we need to be certain that we're flexible enough to participate, either through joint ventures or other sorts of arrangements," Anderson said.Delta can "use that model with Air France-KLM to get the same kinds of synergies on revenue and cost without trans-border mergers" with other carriers, Anderson said. …