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Virgin Atlantic Launches Codeshare Agreement with Korean Air

The codeshare currently covers flights between London and Seoul, but will be expanded to a further 13 destinations across the Asia-Pacific region in the coming months

by Fergus Cole

March 28, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has launched a new codeshare agreement with fellow SkyTeam member Korean Air (KE), which will help to boost the British carrier’s network in the Asia-Pacific region.

The codeshare partnership was officially launched on Saturday, March 25, initially covering flights between the U.K. and South Korea. Virgin Atlantic customers can now book nonstop flights on its website between London Heathrow (LHR) and Seoul Incheon (ICN), operated by Korean Air daily with a Boeing 777-300ER.

From May 2023, this codeshare agreement will be expanded to cover connecting flights from Seoul to destinations across South East Asia and Australasia, including Auckland (AKL), Brisbane (BNE), Da Nang (DAD), Hanoi (HAN), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), and Sydney (SYD).

Photo: Korean Air, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy of John McArthur / Unsplash

Moreover, at a later date, the codeshare will be expanded to cover flights to Fukuoka (FUK), Hong Kong (HKG), Kansai (KIX), Nagoya (NGO), Okinawa (OKA), Tokyo Haneda (HND), and Tokyo Narita (NRT), from June.

Korean Air—the national flag carrier of South Korea—is a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, of which Virgin Atlantic became the newest member last month. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can get a host of benefits when flying with other airlines in the alliance, including Korean Air, such as priority check-in, baggage handling, and boarding. Other SkyTeam members include Aeromexico, Air France, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and ITA Airways, among others.

Photo: Courtesy of SkyTeam

“We’re pleased to launch a codeshare with Korean Air, as we know such agreements bring an array of benefits to our customers,” said Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic. “As one of Asia’s major carriers, Virgin Atlantic customers can benefit from its extensive route network, that will offer more choice throughout Asia and Australasia.

“Our enrolment into SkyTeam, of which Korean Air is a founding member, enhances customers benefits further. Our Flying Club members can enjoy SkyPriority benefits at both London Heathrow and Seoul Incheon as well as earning and redeeming miles across Korean Air’s network.”

The new partnership with Korean Air is also part of Virgin Atlantic’s wider plans to expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.K. airline intends to launch its own service between London Heathrow and Seoul next summer, which could pave the way for the approval of a merger between Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

Virgin Atlantic / Photo: Croatorum/Shutterstock

The proposed merger had been under investigation by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority as the move could harm potentially harm competition, as they are the only two airlines to operate nonstop flights between the U.K. and South Korea.

In addition to Korea, Virgin Atlantic also has plans to expand into other parts of Asia. From May 1, the airline will resume direct flights between London Heathrow and Shanghai (PVG) for the first time since 2020. Meanwhile, another codeshare agreement with IndiGo was signed last year, which covers more than a dozen destinations across the Indian subcontinent.