OneWorld: LATAM leaving early – 1 May 2020
In September 2019, LATAM announced that Delta airlines were taking a 20% stake in them, and that presumably prompted the notice of severing membership of OneWorld. LATAM also abandoned the negotiations for a joint venture with its OneWorld partner American Airlines.
At that time, the proposed date LATAM would sever its ties with OneWorld was 1 October 2020. That has now been brought forward by 5 months to 1 May 2020.
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So what’s going on here?
Well, for Delta (Skyteam) formal membership of an alliance is becoming less important. They have pursued direct investment in a number of airline partners, forming an ownership alliance. They then parlayed these interests into joint venture arrangements whether the other airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance or not.
There are currently no plans for LATAM to take up membership of Skyteam.
For a long time, Delta has been weak in South America. So the alliance with LATAM has two effects – it gives them a presence in South America, and also deals a blow to their rival American Airlines, by ripping a partner from them.
LATAM needed to give OneWorld 12 months notice to leave the alliance, hence the 1 October date. They could always leave earlier if OneWorld and its members agreed.
Well, it looks like they have, allowing LATAM to leave 5 months early.
What’s the deal?
Essentially everything stays the same until April 30, 2020, and then with OneWorld airlines – Excluding American Airlines – LATAM is maintaining bilateral agreements with most of their ex-alliance partners, including:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
If you travel on those airlines after 30 April 2020, you will continue to:
- Earn and redeem frequent flyer miles/points via each airlines loyalty program
- Have reciprocal lounge access (subject to final agreement with each carrier)
- Top tier recognition in each airline’s frequent flyer program (subject to final agreement with each carrier)
LATAM will continue to honour mileage/points accumulation on tickets flown within 12 months from May 1, 2020, if purchased before that date.
For a full rundown of benefits retained and those lost and when – check the OneWorld Media Release, and the guides for the individual airlines you are flying with.
This seems a very fair deal. For Australian travellers, let’s hope that Qantas maintains its relationship with LATAM.