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AP source: Delta-Virgin Atlantic deal is close

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: December 10, 2012

Delta Air Lines Inc. is close to buying a stake in Virgin Atlantic for between $300 million to $500 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal has not been announced.

Singapore Airlines owns a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic. Last week, it said it was in talks with a possible buyer for that stake. Delta has been widely reported to be on the other side of those talks.

It's not yet clear exactly what Delta would do with its stake, but Virgin Atlantic is the second-biggest airline at London's Heathrow airport, behind British Airways.

A partnership with Virgin Atlantic would give Delta access either to some of its landing rights, or at least to some of the financial benefits of flying people to London, whether they're on a plane flown by Delta or Virgin Atlantic.

Landing rights are limited at Heathrow, so airlines can't just add more flights there whenever they want. And currently Atlanta-based Delta has fewer flights from the New York area to Heathrow than either American or United, its main U.S. competitors.

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