United Airlines and Virgin Australia Group have formed a new partnership, which is expected to launch in early 2022 pending government approval, the airlines said on Monday. Virgin Australia had previously partnered with Delta Air Lines for connectivity to the United States.
Benefits of the United-Virgin partnership, carriers said, would include codeshare flights and more stop-over connections to cities in the United States, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America . Carriers also cited the ability for Mileage Plus and Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty members to earn and redeem points or miles on each carrier’s flights and reciprocal lounge access.
United currently offers daily direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, while other services, such as flights from Houston and direct service to Melbourne, are expected to resume later in 2022. Under the new partnership, United customers would have access to additional services. destinations, including Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, according to United. The partnership would triple the number of US cities that Virgin Australia customers can reach, according to the Australian carrier.
The partnership would also mark the resumption of codeshare flights for Virgin Australia, which first interrupted them at the height of the pandemic. The carrier entered voluntary administration (similar to bankruptcy protection) on April 21, 2020. It was subsequently purchased by Bain Capital and left voluntary administration on November 17, 2020, under the leadership of new CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.