In a surprise announcement, LATAM has announced that it intends to withdraw from the oneworld alliance. No date has been specified for termination of the airline’s membership, however a year’s notice is typically expected.
The withdrawal is the result of a recent ownership change at the Chilean airline. Overnight, Delta has acquired a 20% stake in LATAM, with partnership and aircraft swaps included in the deal. Speculation is rife that following a respectable delay, LATAM will join Delta in the rival Skyteam alliance. However this remains speculation for now.
LATAM itself is the result of a merger between LAN and TAM (major Chilean and Brazilian airlines respectively). LAN was an early member of the alliance, with TAM moving from Star Alliance in 2015 following the merger of the two airlines.
LATAM pullout leaves network gap
The withdrawal of LATAM will leave a South American gap in the oneworld network. Remaining alliance members American Airlines, Qantas, British Airways and Iberia will likely be scrambling to fill these network gaps with either their own routes or new partnerships. As the news has come as a surprise, reactions are likely to be measured until more concrete plans emerge from LATAM and other alliance members.
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at oneworld, although the disappointment is clear:
We are disappointed, but we respect their decision. oneworld statement
We will attempt to provide more details as they come to light. The original statement can be read here.