GOL seeking new North American partner after Delta departure

Oct 31, 2019

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Brazilian carrier GOL is actively looking for a new North American partner after Delta Air Lines departure for competitor LATAM Airlines.

The São Paulo-based carrier, which is the largest domestic airline in Brazil, sees significant opportunities to either codeshare or interline, GOL CEO Paulo Kakinoff said during a quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

“This kind of possibility is on the table at the moment,” he said without naming names of potential partners.

Delta, a long-standing partner of GOL’s and owner of a 9.4% stake in the carrier, announced in September that it would forge a strategic partnership with LATAM. That tie up, which includes a $2 billion investment in LATAM and a joint venture covering flights between South America and the U.S., meant Delta would end its partnership with GOL and sell its stake.

Related: LATAM will remain unaligned after Delta tie-up, Oneworld exit

LATAM, itself a long-standing partner of American Airlines, said it would end the American relationship and leave the Oneworld Alliance.

GOL’s concentration in Brazil, where Diio by Cirium schedules show it will operate 85% of capacity this year, is among the reasons some have cited for Delta’s departure to LATAM. GOL only brought Brazil to the table for the SkyTeam Alliance carrier, whereas LATAM brings nearly all of South America.

American is the most likely new partner for GOL. United Airlines, the only other U.S. carrier flying to Brazil (besides American and Delta), already codeshares with Azul in whom it owns an 8% stake.

Related: Azul could join giant Latin America alliance sought by United, Avianca, Copa

“We’re busy working and exploring and evaluating the opportunities that are out there right now so, good things to come,” said American president Robert Isom earlier in October when asked how the airline planned to replace the lost feed from LATAM.

Local reports have said American and GOL are already talking about a partnership, though neither has confirmed the discussions.

“GOL would be a great partner in that American would provide the long-haul and GOL could handle the short-haul,” wrote Brett Snyder on the Cranky Flier blog earlier in October. “It is a more complementary partnership compared to American-LATAM.”

Featured image by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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