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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
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.