(Yicai Global) Oct. 17 -- UK-based Virgin Atlantic Airways will join the joint operation network formed by China Eastern Airlines and Air France-KLM Group to further expand the airline network between China and Europe.
Four airline companies penned a memorandum of intention of joint operation in Shanghai yesterday, The Paper reported. This will enable Virgin Atlantic's passengers to easily go to 188 destinations in the Chinese mainland via Shanghai-based China Eastern's domestic flight network, per the memorandum.
China Eastern and Virgin Atlantic offer flight services between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and London Heathrow International Airport each day. The Chinese carrier plans to increase flights between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and London Gatwick Airport from three a week to one a day later this month.
The two firms will share codes for airlines between Shanghai and London for the first time early next year to offer more convenient services and preferences to passengers.
China Eastern concluded its joint operations with Air France in 2012 and with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 2016. They had set up an airline network for code sharing between China, Paris and Amsterdam, and cooperated in marketing and passenger services.
Air France's buyout of KLM in 2005 produced Europe's largest airline conglomerate Air France-KLM Group. China Eastern bought an about 10 percent stake in the group for EUR375 million (USD413.4 million) in 2017, and the group acquired 31 percent of Virgin Atlantic shares for USD287 million the same year.
Editor: Ben Armour