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Delta-LATAM Joint Venture Given the Green Light by U.S. Department of Transportation

The partnership will also allow for improved connections between cities across North and South America

by Fergus Cole

October 6, 2022

Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Plans for a joint venture between Delta and LATAM have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT), paving the way for an increase in travel routes and connections between North and South America.

The airlines first submitted their application for antitrust immunity to the DOT in July 2020, in which they promised both lower fares for customers and a boost to capacity. 

According to Delta, the joint venture “will create the most comprehensive combined carrier network throughout the Americas.”

The now-approved partnership between Delta and LATAM Airlines—which includes its affiliates in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Paraguay—will give passengers of those carriers access to more than 300 destinations between the U.S./Canada and six countries across South America. The joint venture will also allow for improved connections between cities across North and South America, increase the number of codeshare routes between the two airlines, and strengthen their mutual frequent flyer programs.

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, praised the recent approval from the DOT. “Delta’s partnership with LATAM will help grow the market between North and South America and provide significant and much-needed benefits for customers. We applaud the DOT for this final approval,” he said. “Now, we’ll get to work with LATAM to transform the travel experience for our collective customers and create new opportunities for growth.”

Bastian’s sentiment was shared by the CEO of LATAM Airlines Group, Roberto Alvo, who believes the approval by the DOT “will give rise to the start of work with Delta to deliver more and better benefits to LATAM and Delta customers, such as faster connections and the joint accrual of miles in frequent flyer programs, among many others.”

Delta, a founding member of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance, first announced it would form an intercontinental partnership with LATAM back in 2019. Since then, the two airlines have combined their frequent flyer mileage programs and redemption schemes. They now have shared terminals at several hubs, including New York-JFK, Miami, São Paulo-Guarulhos in Brazil, and the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago de Chile.

Customers of both airlines currently have mutual access to 53 airport lounges across the U.S., including the recently opened Delta Sky Club at LAX, and five LATAM lounges across South America, including the largest one on the continent, in Santiago.

While the joint venture between Delta and LATAM was given clearance last month, it is not yet clear when or where the upcoming route expansions and increased customer benefits will take place. Delta says further details on the partnership’s benefits will be announced in the coming months.