Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) will buy 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. for $360 million in a deal that will expand its New York to London flight capabilities.

Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson will retain 51 percent of the company.

The 49 percent that Delta will buy is currently owned by Singapore Airlines.

The companies will share the costs and revenues from all joint venture flights.  Customers with access will be able to use both Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse airport lounges.

"Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the U.K., particularly on the New York-London route, which is the largest airline route between the U.S. and Europe," says Delta chief executive Richard Anderson.

The airlines plan to file an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, flies to 313 destinations in 58 countries. London-based Virgin Atlantic flies to 34 destinations. 

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