LATAM Officially To Join Oneworld and American Airlines Planning to Add Flights to Brazil from Los Angeles and Chicago

by on March 7, 2013 · 8 comments

in American, Lan, TAM

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This morning came the official announcement that most of us have suspected for a while now: LATAM Airlines – the parent company of both LAN and TAM will be a part of Oneworld once TAM officially leaves the Star Alliance in early 2014 along with a Paraguayan subsidiary.

latam logo hi res.jpg

This comes as no surprise since LAN has been a member of Oneworld since 2000. TAM is Brazil’s biggest carrier, flying 800 daily departures to 60 destinations in 16 countries in Latin America, the US and Europe with its fleet of 161 aircraft. It will add 35 destinations to the Oneworld map (currently Oneworld serves on 7 Brazilian destinations, but this brings it up to 42).

LAN Colombia, which flies to 23 destinations in 3 countries with a fleet of 20 aircraft operating 113 departures a day will also join Oneworld, adding 18 Colombian destinations to the alliance’s South American network.

In terms of what it means for frequent flyers, according to the announcement: “When TAM becomes part of oneworld, the 10 million members of its Fidelidade frequent flyer programme will retain both their tier status and any points they have earned.”

Also according to the announcement: “With the addition of TAM and LAN Colombia to Oneworld, plus the impending additions of Qatar Airways and SriLankan in the coming year, and the planned merger, subject to approvals, of American Airlines with US Airways, the Oneworld network will grow to more than 950 destinations in almost 160 countries served by a combined fleet of some 3,300 aircraft operating around 13,000 daily departures, carrying 480 million passengers a year and generating annual revenues of some US$ 140 billion.” It’s all part of a push to put Oneworld, the smallest of the three major alliances, back into competition with Star Alliance and SkyTeam.

At the same time, American has applied for the right to fly one additional daily flight both Los Angeles and Chicago to Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the US Department of Transportation. The LA flight would begin in late 2013, with the Chicago flight coming online in 2014.

AA plans to expand their Brazil service.

AA plans to expand their Brazil service.

American’s Vice President of Network Planning, Chuck Schubert, said: “American is committed to expanding its presence throughout Brazil to match customer demand in this extremely important and growing market. With these additional frequencies, we will offer more options to travel between Brazil and the United States enabling our customers to connect through our growing global network.”

This represents a potential big shift in American’s South America focus since right now, the airline only serves the country from its hubs in Miami, New York JFK and Dallas/Ft. Worth. It currently flies from Miami to Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo; from New York  (JFK) to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo; and from Dallas/Fort Worth to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and in total  has over 800 weekly flights to Latin America.

However, by opening up both the west coast with direct access to Brazil as well as its northern central Chicago hub, this diversifies the airline’s current coverage in the region significantly since right now it is mainly dependent on its Oneworld partner, LAN, to supply connections within South America from its hubs in Peru, Chile and Argentina – but noticeably not Brazil.

Since LAN and Brazilian airline TAM are merging and joining the Oneworld fold, this brings TAM’s extensive Brazil-based route network at its disposal and could open up American’s South America coverage significantly.

American’s newfound focus on the region is also evidenced by the fact that it chose to launch service on the first of its new 777-300ER‘s from Dallas to Sao Paulo, so with American’s new aircraft routes and a potential LATAM Oneworld membership, US-based flyers are going to see even more flights from the US directly to Brazil in the future, and much more access to flights within South America.

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  • Derek

    Probably should have noted that US applied to operate flights form CLT and PHL to Sao Paulo starting in June just a few days ago. But good news nonetheless…

  • Guest

    This sounds like good news all around.

  • Samlaghi

    Nice to see more AA South American routes from LAX. KE already flies to Sao Paulo from LAX was hoping for Rio.

  • DBest

    How long do you think we have to redeem from StarAlliance FFPs on TAM?

  • mistermongo

    American needs to get a nonstop from LAX to EZE……like yesterday. They would make a killing on that

  • JOHN C

    This is definitely great news but I would be careful with reward redemptions. First of all, it is very hard to find any space AT ALL currently with TAM as they release their rewards space I believe 90 days out which essentially is useless for high season peak travel periods. Secondly, LAN has been having massive computer glitches and cancelling flights left and right on reward bookings . This happened to me twice already. Once showed up at the airport for a MIA-RIO trip on LAN and was informed at the check in counter that my flight had been cancelled and would “be rebooked on TAM”. (similar situation to what happened to THE POINTS GUY w/ Swiss Air) . with no accountability or recourse. My sister also had a flight cancelled on premium economy (paid ticket) and was rebooked on economy class through SCL without any compensation as the flight didnt have premium economy. The agents at the desk said this is a daily occurrence. let’s hope they get their glitches solved!

  • SamLaghi

    I believe AR flew LAX to EZE non stop. I wrote a letter to AA about 5 years ago commenting on why they don’t fly that route. AA responded by saying not enough capacity. L.A. needs to market itself better to more South American cities then they will come.

  • Marcus Sasse

    I recently flew the DFW-GRU route. I even booked my seat on a 1-2-1 business class formation. When I boarded the plane, i noticed red and blue stripes on the livery and when reached my seat, i realized it was NOT the 777-300ER!!! A flight attendant told me they sent the plane to the London route instead! I was really mad at AA!

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