LATAM Airlines Group has confirmed that oneworld is to be the global alliance for all its passenger airlines.
Passenger airlines in the LATAM Airlines Group include LAN Airlines and its affiliates LAN Argentina, LAN Colombia, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru; and TAM Airlines, Brazil’s largest carrier, along with operating subsidiary TAM Airlines (Paraguay).
The decision, announced at a meeting of the oneworld governing board held in Hong Kong on March 7, means that Brazil’s TAM Airlines will leave the Star Alliance to join oneworld, along with its Paraguay subsidiary.
TAM Airlines and TAM Airlines (Paraguay) expect to complete their transition to oneworld during the second quarter of 2014.
LAN Airlines and all but one of its affiliates are already members or affiliate members of oneworld. LAN Colombia, the latest LAN carrier, will join oneworld as an affiliate member in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Chile’s LAN Airlines has flow as a full member of oneworld since June 2000 and LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru have joined subsequently as affiliate members. The March 7 LATAM announcement will bring all the members of Latin America’s largest airline group into the same global airline alliance, alongside 11 other carriers from around the world and 30 of their affiliates.
LATAM will announce an exact date for TAM’s departure from the Star Alliance in due course. The intention is for it to become part of oneworld immediately after it exits Star Alliance.
“We evaluated all the possibilities and chose the alliance that offers the best benefits to our passengers, besides the best connectivity and products, as well as the greater synergies for LATAM Airlines Group,” says LATAM Airlines Group CEO Enrique Cueto. “We are very happy with the decision.”
Adds Cueto: “With this change, passengers flying with us will be able to book trips through the oneworld network of destinations and, for instance, connect from any of 950 destinations, including distant and exotic ones such as Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow or Melbourne, through oneworld member airlines.”
“This is important news to TAM passengers, and we are focused on ensuring a smooth transition for the company, our partners, and, most important, our clients,” says Marco Antonio Bologna, CEO of TAM Airlines and TAM SA.
TAM “is changing towards a growing alliance, able to offer the best connection options to our passengers”, adds Bologna.
When TAM becomes part of oneworld, the 10 million members of its Fidelidade frequent flyer programme will retain both their tier status and any points they have earned.
They will then be able to earn and redeem rewards on any oneworld member airline and have access to oneworld’s entire range of services and benefits, including access for top-tier members to some 550 airport lounges worldwide.
At the same time, the 130 million frequent-flyer cardholders of oneworld’s other member airlines will be able to earn and redeem rewards when flying on TAM and LAN Colombia.
TAM’s network will be covered by oneworld’s range of alliance fares, including the oneworld Explorer round-the-world fare and its Visit South America pass.
Oneworld will set in place a comprehensive communications program to keep TAM’s customers fully informed as the alliance switch takes place. Until then, it is business as usual for customers and the airlines, according to oneworld.
LAN Airlines (Chile) has been a full member of oneworld since June 2000. Since then LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru have joined oneworld as affiliate members.
TAM Airlines operates to 60 destinations in 16 countries in Latin America, the USA and Europe, with a fleet of 161 aircraft operating 800 departures daily. It boarded 37.7 million passengers in 2011. It will add 35 destinations to the oneworld map. Its Paraguayan subsidiary will transition to oneworld at the same time.
LAN Colombia serves 23 destinations in three countries with a fleet of 20 aircraft operating 113 departures a day. It will add 18 destinations in Colombia to the oneworld network. It boarded 3.5 million passengers in 2012.
Four of oneworld’s established members – American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and LAN – currently serve a total of seven destinations in Brazil. TAM will expand the alliance’s coverage of Brazil, one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies, to 42 destinations.
Three of the alliance’s existing members – American, Iberia and LAN – serve three destinations in Colombia. LAN Colombia will extend the alliance’s coverage of the country to 21 airports.
With the addition of TAM and LAN Colombia to oneworld, plus the impending additions of Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines in the coming year, and the planned merger, subject to approvals, of American Airlines with US Airways, the oneworld network will grow to more than 950 destinations in almost 160 countries.
This network will be served by a combined fleet of some 3,300 aircraft operating around 13,000 daily departures, carrying 480 million passengers a year and generating annual revenues of some $140 billion.