DOT approves Delta-Latam joint venture

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Latam and Delta have six months to implement the joint venture.
Latam and Delta have six months to implement the joint venture. Photo Credit: Latam

The DOT has given the go-ahead for Delta and Latam to launch a joint venture for flights between the U.S. and Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay. 

The approval means the carriers will have antitrust immunity, allowing them to jointly operate, schedule and market flights.

In statements Friday, the carriers said that the joint venture will bring enhanced service and expanded route offerings to customers. Under the terms of the DOT approval, the airlines have six months to implement the joint venture. 

"Delta's partnership with Latam will help grow the market between North and South America and provide significant and much-needed benefits for customers, and we applaud the DOT for this final approval," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a prepared remark. 

The airlines announced their intent to seek antitrust immunity in late 2019. They currently codeshare on 20 routes between the U.S. and South America, as well as on connections onward from Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Santiago, Lima, Bogota and Sao Paolo. 

In addition, loyalty program members of Delta and Latam enjoy reciprocal points accrual and redemption and reciprocal elite frequent flyer benefits, including shared lounge access. 

Under the DOT's approval, antitrust immunity between Delta and Latam will have to be renewed after 10 years. The airlines must also enter into interline agreements with other carriers that serve the U.S-South American market upon request. 

Delta currently owns 10% of Latam. The South American carrier plans to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.

Correction: Latam hasn't exited bankruptcy. A previous version of this report said it had in error.

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