Delta Air Lines Inc. and Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd received approval on June 10 for a trans-Pacific alliance that allows the airlines to offer more flights between the U.S., Australia and the southern Pacific.

The approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation opens the door for a joint venture, which will give customers access to additional flights, extended frequent-flier program benefits and access to lounges of both airlines.

John Borghetti, CEO for Virgin Australia, said that the approval will allow the airline to seamlessly work with Delta to increase flights.

“The Delta alliance is a key plank in our strategy to build an international network of airline partners that offers global coverage. Now that we have DOT approval, we will move quickly to implement the joint venture and plan to have it up and running by the end of the year,” Mr. Borghetti said in a news release.

The two airlines began a codesharing initiative in January 2010 and expanded the agreement this May to add five new destinations. Delta customers can now connect through Sydney to Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra, Australia and to Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Starting June 1, Delta offered customers connecting service to 21 new cities in China as part of an agreement with China Eastern Airlines. The airline also restarted nonstop flights between Shanghai and Atlanta on June 5.

For more information, visit