A combined schedule of nine daily flights between Heathrow and New York JFK will be offered by Virgin Atlantic and partner Delta Air Lines from next March.

The two airlines will run a total of 32 transatlantic flights a day, including 24 operating between Heathrow and US destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington.

The new scheduled from March 30, 2014 was confirmed as the carriers won anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation for their joint venture.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic plan to unveil further product enhancements later in the year to appeal to business travellers and “improve the travel experience”  across the Atlantic.

The two carriers had argued that almost 60% of slots at Heathrow are controlled by British Airways and its joint venture partners. BA already runs a transatlantic joint venture with Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines.

By combining Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow slots and UK brand strength with Delta’s powerful US network, they say the new joint venture will offer “significant competition” in the market and benefit consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Delta president Ed Bastian said:  “We are delighted that the Department of Transportation recognises that the immunised partnership offers significant advantages to customers.

“The freedom to co-operate fully with Virgin Atlantic will initiate a new era of greater competition in the New York to London market -where it is much needed.

“We have a proven record in making joint ventures succeed and we look forward to building our relationship with Virgin Atlantic.”

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger said yesterday: “Our partnership with Delta means we will be able to offer convenient aligned schedules and a much broader network, giving the best possible travel choices and on board experience to transatlantic passengers.

“For almost 30 years Virgin Atlantic has offered an award-winning experience and service to passengers travelling across the Atlantic, and today’s approval means we can build on this momentum and improve the consumer landscape at Heathrow for the better.”