(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines , which this week won European and U.S. antitrust approval to buy a 49 percent stake in Britain's Virgin Atlantic , said the two carriers plan to start cross-selling seats on each other's flights.
The U.S. carrier next week plans to announce that it and Virgin Atlantic will begin "a significant cooperative relationship" including a code-sharing pact, Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson told staff in a recorded message on Friday.
A press conference is planned for Monday in New York to mark the closing of the transaction, Anderson added.
The venture must still be approved by the U.S. Transportation Department.
Atlanta-based Delta said in December it would buy the Virgin stake from Singapore Airlines . Virgin founder Richard Branson will keep his 51 percent stake.
The Virgin alliance will allow Delta to dramatically expand access at London's Heathrow, a key international business airport where gate constraints have limited growth. Anderson said in his recorded message that Delta plans to shortly announce daily non-stop flight service from Seattle to London Heathrow.
The venture will give Atlanta-based Delta the means to attract more lucrative corporate customers and increase competition with a venture between British Airways and AMR Corp's American Airlines that currently dominates travel between the United States and London.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta)