30 SEPTEMBER 2019
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The battle for the US-South America market hotted up on Friday after Delta Air Lines and the Chilean-based LATAM Airlines Group announced a strategic partnership they said combined “the strengths of the leading airlines in North America and Latin America”.
Delta is taking a 20% stake in LATAM. This is valued at US$1.9bn (about £1.5bn), in a move likely to prove a blow to American Airlines, which had previously sought a joint-venture deal with LATAM to grow revenue in South America.
As Delta is a member of SkyTeam, the deal also means LATAM will leave the oneworld alliance, which includes American, British Airways, Iberia and Qantas among others.
However LATAM said it would not join SkyTeam, which observers noted underscored Delta CEO Ed Bastian's belief that global airline alliances haven't met their potential and provide only limited benefit to airlines and customers.
Bastian said: “This transformative partnership with LATAM will bring together our leading global brands, enabling us to provide the very best service and reliability for travellers to, from and throughout the Americas.
LATAM CEO Enrique Cueto Plaza added: “This alliance with Delta strengthens our company and enhances our leadership in Latin America by providing the best connectivity through our highly complementary route networks.
“We look forward to working alongside one of the world’s best airlines to enhance the travel experience for our passengers.”
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