With Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines preparing to join forces by the end of the year, Miami looks set to become a zone of contention between the new alliance and LATAM’s former Oneworld partner, American Airlines. Recently American announced three new routes to South America. Here’s what you need to know.
Story at a Glance:
- LATAM to leave Oneworld by the end of 2019 and join with Delta
- Delta purchased a 20% stake in LATAM
- Delta has no current plans to increase its Miami presence dramatically
- Delta is adding a MIA – BOS direct service from December
- American announced flights to Lima, Santiago, and Sao Paulo from Miami
Delta’s Stake in LATAM Increases Its Reach into Latin America
As we recently reported here at BestCards, LATAM – Latin America’s largest airline – is ditching Oneworld and joining up with Delta Air Lines, who also purchased a 20% stake in the carrier. This budding alliance stands to cause immense harm to LATAM’s current U.S. partner, American Airlines, which has a hub in Miami and helps it serve as the go-to American carrier for access to South America. Delta’s acquisition of a stake in LATAM allows the Atlanta-based carrier – itself the largest airline in the world – to increase its global reach, with a further 11 daily flights to Latin America. Previously, Delta’s SkyTeam Alliance members in Central and South America only included Aerolineas Argentinas and Aeromexico, so the addition of LATAM is a significant coup. American Airlines’ hub in Miami has served the airline well in creating a base of operations that has allowed it to become the U.S. leader in Latin American travel. Unfortunately, however, the departure of LATAM from Oneworld now leaves the airline in the lurch, with no South American partner to pick up the slack. American currently serves 54 U.S. destinations from Miami, but with LATAM’s withdrawal, the future of some of these routes may be in doubt. Delta, in comparison, currently serves four U.S. cities from Miami International Airport (MIA): Atlanta, Detroit, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), and Minneapolis/St. Paul. A new service to Boston‘s Logan International Airport is set to begin in December.
Miami Set to Become Ground Zero in an Airline Turf War
So, will Delta’s deal with LATAM mean more direct services from major American cities to Miami? In short, no. According to Glen Hauenstein, president of Delta, the airline has no plans to drastically alter its operations, instead focusing on operating several “key spokes” connecting MIA with Central and South America. “We’re not creating a new hub (in Miami),” he said in a quarterly earnings call. “We’re not creating a giant connecting complex; we’re making selective adds.” American Airlines, for its part, has announced plans to create new routes from Miami into South America to pick up some of their lost traffic, with new routes to Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. No matter what Delta’s future plans are with regards to Miami, however, there is a growing consensus among airline experts that MIA is sure to become something of a flash point between the budding South American rivalry of American Airlines and the Delta/LATAM Partnership.
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