Business & Economy

Delta, LATAM airline alliance overcomes initial difficulties, expands operations

Santiago de Chile, Oct 10 (EFE).- After overcoming some initial difficulties, the alliance reached a year ago between Delta and LATAM, two of the continent’s most established airlines, is to be strengthened with new routes, more modern aircraft and facilities, and greater diversification of connections, executives from both companies told EFE.

This partnership is looking to become stronger in the face of future challenges, such as the transition to greener and more efficient aviation to multiply connectivity and make travel more accessible, especially in South America, where according to Latam figures 80% of the population has never boarded a plane.

Delta Air Lines Vice President for Latin America, Alex Antilla, and LATAM Chief Commercial Officer Martin St. George explained the future of the alliance to EFE.

“We were very excited to have the opportunity to work with Delta on this partnership. Now we’re one year into it. We’ve carried over 3 million customers back and forth between North America and South America.,” explained St. George, who also believes that they have far exceeded the promise they made.

For Delta, South America was a problem because its business capacity and market share ranged between 5 to 10%.

“We were number four in the market and it’s hard to really win in that type of environment. And LATAM is clearly the leader in this marketplace. So it was a perfect relationship for us. In the second half of 2023 alone, we will start seven new routes, which is frankly unprecedented. In the first year alone, we have flown more than 90 million kilometers,” Antilla said.

St. George goes on to further reflect that the agreement has not only been profitable for both airlines but also very beneficial for customers.

“It’s not easy to get regulatory approval for relationships like this. The only way to get it is if you can demonstrate real benefits for the customer and, based on the results we have seen so far and the increased connectivity and routes we have been able to offer, we have more than delivered on that commitment,” he said.

Challenging economic environment

St. George emphasized the importance of connectivity, with flights from Sao Paulo to Los Angeles, with access and connections between the West Coast of the United States and most South American countries, and flights from Lima to Atlanta, one of the largest airports in the world.

Progress was achieved in a challenging economic environment, marked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the corporate crisis, and the war in Ukraine.

“This industry is one of the most dynamic in the world if not the most, and it is impacted by all the global events, uncertainty, political instability, and different countries. And that is simply a reality that is out of our control. The only thing we can influence is to try to produce the best product,” says Antilla.

St. George argues that airlines are trying to keep prices competitive, a common customer complaint, as they have risen sharply since the pandemic, but that there are economic contingencies beyond the airlines’ control.

A strategic alliance

In addition to the economic crisis, the partnership began with LATAM filing for Chapter 11 because of a large debt incurred that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. St. George said the company addressed the situation with “the goal of making it painless for our customers because we are a service company and our job is to serve customers.”

“There was never any doubt at Delta,” Antilla said, adding that “you don’t just change airlines, nor do you merge overnight. Some systems need to integrate, some people need to integrate, and those processes sometimes take decades to do. Our job was to accelerate those things as quickly as possible.”

Finally, both agree that sustainability and energy transition to address the climate crisis are shared strategic priorities, with programs to reduce pollutants such as single-use plastics that go beyond simply switching fuel. EFE


This information has been prepared as part of an agreement to expand coverage on attractive travel and destinations in Latin America.

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