Alliances Look to Cement Standing in Latin America with Recent Moves

Alliances, Avianca, LATAM, Oneworld, SkyTeam, Star Alliance, TACA

It’s been a busy year south of the US border with all three alliances trying to make big land grabs in Latin America. So far, it looks like Star Alliance and oneworld are doing the best with Skyteam coming in a sad third. But these alliance loyalties are not static, and we could see more changes soon.

Let’s start with a map showing in which countries each alliance has a presence. This assumes that all announced members actually become members and it doesn’t include non-alliance partnerships. (For example, Gol may work with American but it’s not part of oneworld.)

Latin America Alliance Representation

Now let’s think about some of the major changes that altered this map in recent months. The list is enormous.

And that’s all pretty recent. Crazy stuff, right? So now we see Star Alliance having a stranglehold on Central America now that TACA and Copa will be in the same alliance. LAN rules the southwest of the continent with Avianca-TACA making strides in the northwest. And then there’s Brazil.

All eyes are on the most important market in Latin America these days. The big player in the country, TAM, is currently part of Star Alliance, but there is plenty of speculation about what will happen after its merger with LAN is completed. Will LAN come to Star? Will TAM go to oneworld? Or will the airlines both keep their respective alliances? My money is on the latter, if they can figure out a way to walk that tightrope.

Then again, Star has given itself a little cushion here. If TAM goes to oneworld, then Star will have the option of trying to help Avianca grow its Brazilian subsidiary, if it thinks it’s necessary. And LAN might want to bring TAM into oneworld to try to push off American’s growing relationship with Gol, right? This is better than a Mexican soap opera.

The one thing we can all agree on now is that Skyteam is mostly left out of this game. Sure, Aeromexico is a part of Skyteam but that’s far from where this fight is taking place. It’s a different market entirely. And Aerolineas Argentinas? Yeah, that’s one mess of an airline. As a government-owned entity, it’s not going anywhere, but it’s not exactly the alliance prize of Latin America.

Latin America is booming and there are a handful of very well run airlines down there (most prominently, LAN). This is going to be a fascinating area to watch as alliances look to cement relationships to give the best coverage in the region.

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17 comments on “Alliances Look to Cement Standing in Latin America with Recent Moves

  1. Mexico doesn’t seem like a big deal since there are so many flight their by the main US carriers anyway. CO/COX has a lot of flight into Mexico so that already helps Star.

    It always seems like new carriers are always starting in South American so their may never be and end to whom the alliances can get as a member to fill a gap in their coverage.

    1. i agree, especially since most americans would rather connect in IAH, LAX, PHX or ATL instead of MEX anyway. at IAH in particular, CO offers multitudes of flights to secondary and even tertiary mexican destinations.

  2. I still think there will be some issue with the Colombian government if both Avianca and Copa Colombia (AeroRepublica) are in Star. My feeling is Copa should go back to Skyteam, now that Continental has divested its holding. Although this would be a significant cost for Copa. Also this situation alone makes it worthwhile for LAN-TAM to go to oneworld.

    Gol will either stay independent or follow the Airfrance codeshare to Skyteam.

    If Avianca hadn’t merged with TACA, then TACA would have gone Star and Avianca to Skyteam. So in matter of two years Skyteam has lost everyone who they had a chance with in Mexico/Central America (CO, Copa, Avianca) except for Aeromexico.

    Anyone with me for Cubana/Caribbean Airlines joining Skyteam?

  3. my guess= lantam will go star….as aa is the main competitor….the big looser is skyteam…unless they could convince copa to go skyteam…and fares in central america will go sky high if both taca and copa are star…united will also gain in latin america thru its continental presence…example=iah-eze could go 767-300

    1. Well Belize isn’t because TACA is not in Belize. (Sure, it flies there from San Salvador but that’s it.) El Salvador, however, was just an oversight. This wasn’t the clearest map.

  4. There are some very ugly dance partners still sitting on the sidelines in Latin America– and some not so ugly.

    Will we see Gol in Brazil join an alliance? They own what’s left of the Varig brand these days. They are an excellent airline and have interline agreements with some of the US carriers. Just announced charters to Orlando under the Varig brand, too.

    And then, there are those blank voids in your map, CF.

    Or how about Pluna from Uruguay? Another very good carrier, with a new CRJ fleet. Used to be a Varig property.

    And then, those other “blank countries”. Ahem…

    Will we see Conviasa, Aserca or SBA airlines of Venezuela join up with an alliance? Or how about Aerosur of Bolivia? Sound crazy? Both Aerosur and SBA already fly regularly to Miami.

    Just imagine the possibilities. We could have 727s in Skyteam once again!

    1. I would expect that PLUNA would be a candidate for Star, as Jazz Air (AKA Air Canada Jazz) is a big shareholder. It wouldn’t be a big partner, as I am not sure how many markets it really brings to the table (maybe just their focus city of Punta del Este). I suppose it could be a Adria type partner…

      1. But Jazz is independent of AC now. Sure, Pluna could join Star but it wouldn’t be because of Jazz. It’s like saying Skywest will join Skyteam cause they bought ASA from Delta.

  5. Unless I’m missing something, you’re missing some things (in a by no means exhaustive list):

    Oneworld: AA flies MIA/DFW-BZE
    Skyteam: DL flies ATL-BZE
    Star Alliance: CO flies IAH-BZE, TA flies SAL-BZE, US flies CLT-BZE

    Oneworld: AA flies MIA-LPB
    Star Alliance: TA flies LIM-LPB

    Skyteam: DL flies ATL-SAL
    Star Alliance: CO flies IAH-SAL

    Skyteam: AF flies ORY-CAY

    Skyteam: DL flies JFK-GEO

    Skyteam: KL flies AMS-PBM

    Oneworld: AA flies MIA-MVD, LA flies SCL-MVD
    Star Alliance: TA flies LIM-ASU-MVD, CM flies PTY-MVD

    Oneworld: AA flies DFW/MIA/JFK/SJU-CCS, IB flies MAD-CCS, LA flies MIA/GYE/SCL-CCS
    Skyteam: DL flies ATL-CCS, AF flies CDG-CCS, your favorite AZ flies FCO-CCS, UX flies MAD-CCS
    Star Alliance: AC flies YYZ-CCS, CO flies IAH-CCS, LH flies FRA-CCS, CM flies PTY-CCS, TA flies LIM-CCS, TP flies LIS-CCS

    1. This is not a map of which countries have service from each alliance but which ones have local presences from the alliances.

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