Delta Airlines is buying into South America’s biggest airline and Oneworld member LATAM. For 1,9 billion US-Dollars, SkyTeam’s Delta will receive 20% of the airline. Delta will also invest 350 million dollars into joint venture flights between the USA and South America and take over 14 of LATAM’s ordered but unwanted Airbus A350s. It was also announced that LATAM will leave the Oneworld alliance to join SkyTeam.
American Airlines, also a Oneworld member, had been aiming for a joint venture with LATAM on flights between the USA and South America but failed due to the competition authority. Interestingly, Qatar Airways also owns roughly 10% of LATAM.
Up until now, the SkyTeam alliance only had Aerolineas Argentinas in South America. Nevertheless, the Argentinian airline only offers flights from/to Argentina. LATAM, on the other hand, has a much wider offer due to the merger of the Chilean LAN and Brasilian TAM Airlines and their subsidiaries in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.
This is a big blow for the Oneworld alliance after they had managed to get LATAM after LAN and TAM merged and the Star Alliance also had been interested. After LATAM leaves, they won’t have any airline in South America. Brazilian airline GOL, which hasn’t joined any alliance yet, could be a possible replacement, but Delta owns 9% of that airline too. They are, however, apparently thinking about selling their shares of GOL.
The exact date of LATAM’s move to the SkyTeam alliance is still unknown. Qatar’s reaction, as a partial owner of LATAM and Oneworld member, is also something to be expected in the following days.