The European Commission (EC) is investigating the foreign holdings of European airlines to see if they comply with European rules.
Delta’s stake in Virgin Atlantic and Etihad’s holdings in airberlin are among the partnerships that will be examined as the commission looks into whether they break licences.
Airlines must be more than 50% owned and ‘effectively controlled’ by an EU member state or citizens to have a licence in the EU.
According to Reuters Korean Air’s stake in Czech Airlines and HNCA’s investment in freight carrier Cargolux will also be investigated.
Delta holds a 42% stake in Virgin Atlantic, with the venture given the green light by both the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT) last year.
Etihad has a 29.2% stake in airberlin but a spokesperson told Reuters the UAE carrier has no ‘special rights’ and are strategic partners.
The EC has also warned Italy to be ‘vigilant’ over Etihad’s potential stake in troubled airline Alitalia. The UAE carrier has been aggressively expanding in Europe and is expected to make a formal offer to own as much as 40% in the Italian airline.