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Delta Air Lines is buying Singapore Airlines' 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic for $360 million and has agreed to a transatlantic joint venture with the British carrier, expanding its access to London's capacity-constrained Heathrow airport.
Under the joint venture announced on Tuesday, Delta and Virgin would share costs and revenues on routes between Britain and North America.
Delta, the second-largest U.S. airline by revenue after United Continental, has acquired stakes in Grupo Aeromexico and Brazil's Gol Linhas Aereas over the past year, and has long hoped to break into Heathrow.
In recent years, it has invested heavily to build a major hub in New York.
The tie-up with Delta will be a shot in the arm for Virgin Atlantic, which is the second-largest carrier at Heathrow after IAG's British Airways.
It has been battered by rising fuel prices and the euro zone crisis.
It lost 80 million pounds ($128 million) in its last full year.
Delta's Chief executive, Richard Anderson, says the Virgin brand is the "centrepiece" of the investment.
U.S Delta buys stake in Virgin Atlantic (0:50)
Dec. 11 - The $360 million deal between the British carrier and Delta airlines will be a boost to Virgin Atlantic which lost 80 million pounds last year. ( Transcript )