New United, Avianca and Copa Partnership Hits Snag

Aug 8, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United Airlines’ plans to form a closer relationship with its primary Latin American partners Avianca and Copa Airlines has hit a patch of turbulence.

The joint venture, which the three Star Alliance carriers reached an agreement on in November, is delayed due to the management issues at Avianca, Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron said during the Panamanian carrier’s second quarter earnings call Thursday.

The partnership “has been delayed for many reasons,” he said in response to analyst questions. “I can’t say with certainty when it will be filed.”

The joint venture would allow Avianca, Copa and United to act as essentially one carrier on their routes between Colombia, Panama and the US. In addition to aligning their schedules and businesses, passengers would benefit from improved connectivity, and expanded reciprocal frequent flier benefits and lounge access.

Related: What Is United Airlines Elite Status Worth in 2019?

Palace intrigue has consumed Avianca’s executive suite this year. The Bogota-based carrier’s CEO Hernan Rincon resigned in April after just three years in the job. His departure was followed a month later by the ouster of majority shareholder German Efromovich from the Avianca board after his firm Synergy defaulted on a loan from United.

Then, Avianca’s board named former Aeromexico executive Anko van der Werff  as CEO and former Credit Suisse banker Adrian Neuhauser as CFO in July.

The carrier has also refinanced some aircraft and restructured some of its debt, as part of a larger business transformation.

Andrew Nocella, United’s commercial chief, said In July that joint venture discussions were ongoing, without providing details.

Related: Bye, Bye Continental: United Officially Drops Continental Name

“We’re really excited to bring together our network along with Copa’s and Avianca’s,” he said. “We think it’s going to be a powerful alliance that can help us compete against the other large carriers in the region, so full speed ahead on that front.”

Heilbron, speaking Thursday, said he hopes the three airlines can apply for antitrust immunity from regulators in the Colombia, Panama and the US in the “coming months.”

The partnership would boost the competitive position of Avianca, Copa and United against the pending tie up of American and LATAM Airlines Group, and the two-year-old partnership between Aeromexico and Delta Air Lines.

Featured image by Edward Russell / TPG.

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.