The sale by Singapore Airlines, 56 per cent owned by state investor Temasek, underscores its reduced reliance on battered long-haul routes to Europe and the United States and its deeper focus on Asia.
The sale by Singapore Airlines came after sources familiar with the matter said Delta, the second-largest US airline by operating revenue after United Continental Holdings, wants to gain access to Virgin's landing rights at London's Heathrow airport.
Heathrow is a lucrative hub for corporate passengers where landing slots are hard to acquire.
The deal, which Delta said would lead to a trans-Atlantic joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, is subject to regulatory clearance in the United States and Europe.
Singapore Airlines bought 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic for 600 million pounds in 1999, but wrote off goodwill amounting to 96 per cent of its purchase price of Virgin.
Copyright: Thomson Reuters 2012