Virgin Atlantic is expected to join the SkyTeam global airline alliance in the wake of its transatlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines.

The carrier’s chief commercial officer Julie Southern told the Financial Times that it will “probably make sense” for Virgin to become a member of SkyTeam, although no final decision has been taken.

This comes as the UK carrier seeks to better compete with the British Airways-American Airlines transatlantic joint business.

Southern said: “Being able to compete with BA-AA is pretty important to us … As others join together, it’s not that we wouldn’t have had a future, but it would have been a more and more challenged future.”

Virgin will now assess the case for joining SkyTeam.

“It will probably make sense for us to do it … We will look at SkyTeam, and I suspect in due course you may see us joining SkyTeam, but we’ll only do it if it makes economic sense to the business,” she was reported as saying.

SkyTeam could generate new sales opportunities for Virgin because the alliance provides a foundation on which to form codeshare agreements between its 19 member airlines.

“The real skill in this will be taking the commercial benefits that we can get through co-operation but keeping the brand vibrant,” said Southern.

She also hopes Virgin’s new domestic routes from Heathrow to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen being launched nest month will provide a significant source of transfer passengers.