LATAM Airlines Exits The oneworld Alliance

As of May 1st, LATAM Airlines has departed the oneworld alliance. This leaves oneworld without a South American member. However,…

LATAM Airlines Exits The oneworld Alliance

As of May 1st, LATAM Airlines has departed the oneworld alliance. This leaves world without a South American member. However, LATAM is not yet joining another alliance. Instead, the airline is continuing to build a new partnership with Delta Air Lines.

LATAM has officially departed the oneworld alliance. Photo: Simple Flying

LATAM departs oneworld– how we got here

In 2019, Delta Air Lines and LATAM announced a massive new partnership. This came after years of LATAM working with American Airlines on a new partnership that kept experiencing regulatory hurdles. Since the carrier sought to deepen relations with a US airline, management had to look elsewhere for a new collaboration. While United had Avianca and Copa, Delta only had Aerolineas Argentinas and GOL. Neither are strong players in the continent. As a result, LATAM was an appealing partner for Delta.

LATAM turned to Delta after regulatory hurdles blocked its deeper partnership with American. Photo: Simple Flying

As part of the deal, Delta took over some of LATAM’s existing and future Airbus A350 aircraft while investing $1.9 billion into the carrier for a 20% equity stake. However, with Delta’s stake, it was clear that the world alliance. But, it would not yet join another alliance.

Delta invested $1.9 billion in the airline. Photo: Airbus

Departing an alliance takes time and is a careful unraveling of partnerships and reciprocal benefits. While LATAM will no longer be a partner with American Airlines, it will continue to work with some other airlines that are oneworld members– such as British Airways and Qantas. Severing the ties with American, however, was incredibly important since both Delta and American are major rivals in the United States.

Delta and American are major rivals in the United States. Photo: Simple Flying

The airline drama builds

There are few industries in the world as reactive as the airline industry. Once Delta and LATAM announced their partnership, American and its partners got to work. IAG announced it was purchasing Air Europa, and, as a result, Air Europa will depart Skyteam. Then, American and IAG teamed up to launch new flights from Boston– a city where Delta has been expanding significantly in recent years. And American Airlines upped its South American schedules before announcing a new partnership with GOL.

American and Delta Aircraft
American launched new flights out of Delta’s newer hubs and focus cities. Photo: Getty Images

That was not all for oneworld. The alliance recruited Alaska Airlines, and American announced the launch of two new long-haul routes out of Seattle– a Delta hub. In response, Delta also announced it would start a new route to London to compete with American out of Seattle.

Will LATAM join Skyteam?

LATAM has no interest in joining Skyteam at this time. In the future, it may be open to the opportunity. Delta has, in recent years, preferred to deepen ties with carriers through partnerships both inside and outside the alliance. Skyteam already has a South American carrier in Aerolineas Argentinas. But, the Argentinian flag carrier’s network is not as extensive as LATAM’s, which has hubs in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay.

Aerolineas Argentinas
The flag carrier of Argentina is a member of the Skyteam alliance. Photo: Airbus

Delta will have significant sway over how LATAM broadens its partnerships in the future. While American Airlines and British Airways are proud members of the oneworld alliance, Delta has not been terribly enthusiastic about being a Skyteam member. The Atlanta-based carrier could push Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic toward a new partnership with LATAM leading the South American airline to end its ties with IAG without necessarily asking LATAM To join Skyteam.

Do you think LATAM made the right decision to partner with Delta? Do you believe LATAM will join Skyteam? Let us know in the comments!

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United Wants To Fly To Three Cities In China Next Month

A United Airlines memo to employees is hinting at a possible relaunch of passenger service to several Chinese…

United Wants To Fly To Three Cities In China Next Month

A United Airlines memo to employees is hinting at a possible relaunch of passenger service to several Chinese cities. The news came out in a recent Forbes report, which indicates that the airline wants to resume service to the Chinese cities of Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai.

Service to China was among the first to be cut as the COVID-19 crisis spread around the world. Photo: United Airlines

“Penciling things in”

A full month has passed since we last reported on United considering a relaunch of service to China. Strangely, it feels like history is repeating itself as the carrier once again seems to be planning ahead. This time around, however, there are more cities than just Shanghai being thrown around.

In fact, United Airlines’ employee memo says the following, according to Forbes:

“We will also pencil in four China routes in the June schedule…We continue to workout the feasibility of restarting passenger service to China.”

Cities being mentioned for this relaunch of service includes Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. The airline wants to fly four routes to the three cities. They are as follows:

  • San Francisco – Shanghai Pudong
  • Newark Liberty – Shanghai Pudong
  • San Francisco Beijing Capital
  • San Francisco – Chengu

Unfortunately, the airline did not specify how many times a week these services to China would operate.

United 787
The flights would depart from the airline’s hubs at San Francisco and Newark. Photo: United Airlines

Could this plan have problems?

There might be one big problem with this plan. According to Forbes, under current Chinese policy, it wouldn’t be allowed due to its “Five One” rule. The rule states:

Only one airline can serve one country from one Chinese city to one foreign city with no more than one flight a week.

This would allow the airline to only fly to mainland China once a week on only one route, nothing more.

Strangely, however, the only reference to this rule that we could find was within the Forbes article itself. Without access to timely and accurate Chinese translation, we aren’t able to locate any primary sources to back this up.

Two strong hubs

It makes sense that the airline would primarily choose San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for the re-launch of these transpacific services. The airline is fairly well established at SFO. In fact, closer to the beginning of this crisis, SFO was among the last United hubs to suspend services to Asia.

Located on the east coast of the United States, Newark (EWR) is also one of United’s strongest hubs. With Shanghai normally being a popular destination from the US, this move would ensure that anyone in the country (outside of SFO and EWR) wouldn’t have to fly too far to connect through to one of these flights.

United Airlines released its June schedule earlier this week. Photo: United


As for official word from United Airlines, a spokesperson tells us:

“We continue to evaluate the feasibility of resuming service to China if and when passenger service is permitted but we have not made any announcements about restarting service at this time.”

This posture makes the most sense as travel restrictions would need to lift in order to have decent load factors on these passenger flights. However, with ‘curves’ flattening and infection rates dropping, it doesn’t hurt to look ahead and be somewhat prepared for resuming certain services.

Do you think United will end up resuming service to China in June? Let us know in the comments.

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