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United Airlines and Virgin Australia Group have formed a new partnership, set to roll out in early 2022 pending government approval, the airlines announced Monday. Virgin Australia previously had partnered with Delta Air Lines for U.S. connectivity.

Benefits of the United-Virgin partnership, according to the carriers, would include codeshare flights and more one-stop connections to cities in the U.S., Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. The carriers also cited the ability for Mileage Plus and Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty members to earn and redeem points or miles on each carriers’ flights and reciprocal lounge access.

United currently offers daily direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, while other service, such as flights from Houston and direct service to Melbourne, is expected to resume later in 2022. Under the new partnership, United customers would have access to additional destinations, including Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, according to United. The partnership would triple the number of U.S. cities Virgin Australia customers can reach, according to the Australian carrier. 

The partnership also would mark the resumption of codeshare flights for Virgin Australia, which first paused them at the height of the pandemic. The carrier went into voluntary administration (similar to bankruptcy protection) on April 21, 2020. It subsequently was purchased by Bain Capital and exited the voluntary administration on Nov. 17, 2020, under new CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

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