LATAM expands Qatar Airways partnership as it begins unaligned shift

Oct 15, 2019

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LATAM Airlines is expanding its partnership with Qatar Airways as it begins to map out its future outside of the Oneworld Alliance.

LATAM Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of the Santiago, Chile-based airline group, will place its “JJ” code on Qatar flights between São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) and Doha (DOH), LATAM and Qatar said in a joint statement. The South American carrier will also codeshare on Qatar flights between Doha to another 25 destinations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The expanded partnership comes less than a month after LATAM announced that it will leave Oneworld and become an unaligned carrier as part of a larger strategic investment by Delta Air Lines.

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

Ramiro Alfonsin, the chief financial officer of LATAM, at the time described the airline’s unaligned future as one grounded on partnerships with “two major airlines, Delta and Qatar.”

Qatar has owned a 10% stake in LATAM since 2016.

Delta and Qatar have a fraught relationship. The former led a complaint with the U.S. government against the three main Gulf carriers — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar — alleging that the airlines had benefitted from subsidies that allowed them to essentially dump capacity in the U.S. At a low point, Qatar alleged that Delta blocked gates at the Atlanta (ATL) airport forcing its inaugural flight to park at a remote stand in 2016.

U.S. and Qatari officials reached a settlement in the dispute in early 2018.

Related: Exciting New Airline Routes for September 2019 and Beyond

“They have been a partner of ours since a couple of years now… and I’m sure Delta is very aware of who our shareholders are,” said Alfonsin when asked by analysts in September whether there were any concerns over both Delta and Qatar sitting on the LATAM board.

Qatar is also expanding its codeshare with LATAM. The Gulf carrier will place its “QR” code on more LATAM Brasil flights between São Paulo and points in South America, including Bogota (BOG), Brasilia (BSB), Curitiba (CWB), Lima (LIM) and Rio de Janeiro.

“The expansion of the codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and LATAM Airlines Brazil will provide even greater connectivity for passengers,” said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar, in a statement.

Featured image by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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