LATAM Group is expected to maintain its partnership with Qantas on flights between Australia and South America as it withdraws from the oneworld airline marketing alliance and forges a joint-venture with Delta Air Lines.
It was announced on September 26 that Delta Airlines would spend $1.9 billion to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the LATAM group of carriers and seek a JV partnership on North America-South America routes.
As a consequence of the deal, which requires regulatory approval in a number of different markets, LATAM planned to end its membership of oneworld and operate as an unaligned carrier, as well as drop plans to establish an alliance with American Airlines.
LATAM, which is headquartered in Chile and has subsidiaries in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru, has codeshare agreements with the likes of American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Qantas and Qatar Airways, who are all in the oneworld alliance.
While LATAM will begin the process of unwinding codeshares with American Airlines, LATAM group chief financial officer Roberto Alvo said the South American carrier’s other tie-ups were likely to remain in place for the forseeable future.
“We will keep our current bilateral agreements with all the other carriers in oneworld,” LATAM group chief commercial officer and chief executive designate Roberto Alvo told the financial community in a conference call on Friday.
“This affiliation does not effect our bilateral relationships, which we intend to keep.”
American Airlines and LATAM had been working towards a joint-business agreement on routes between North and South America. However, regulators in Chile raised objections to the proposed deal, which left the door open for Delta Airlines to swoop in and try to secure a tie-up.
LATAM has two routes in Oceania
Currently, LATAM serves three points in Oceania from Santiago de Chile on two routes.
It operates a nonstop Melbourne-Santiago de Chile service three times a week, as well as daily Sydney-Auckland-Santiago de Chile flights. Both are served with Boeing 787-9 equipment.
However, LATAM announced earlier in 2019 plans to commence three times weekly nonstop Sydney-Santiago de Chile services, which were due to begin on October 27.
The start of those nonstop flight would coincide with a reduction of the current Sydney-Auckland-Santiago de Chile schedule from daily to four times weekly.
Meanwhile, Qantas has between three and four nonstop Sydney-Santiago de Chile flights a week – depending on the time of year – with Boeing 747-400s.
The Australian carrier announced in August it would operate the route daily with 787-9s from June 2020. The equipment change represented about 10,000 more one-ways seats a year.
Qantas and LATAM codeshare on each other’s flights between Australia and Chile.
In addition, Qantas places its QF airline code on LATAM-operated flights from Santiago de Chile to six destinations in South America including São Paulo, Rio De Janeiro and Lima – according to information from the Qantas website – in addition to 110 interline/codeshare destinations throughout South America.
Similarly, LATAM has its LA airline code on Qantas-operated flights from Melbourne and Sydney to a number of Australian domestic ports.