Following the purchase of 20% of its shares by Delta Airlines, LATAM has announced its withdrawal from the OneWorld Alliance. It’s almost certain to move across to Skyteam.
The withdrawal date has yet to be set but is likely within 6 months.
For mileage and points owners of other OneWorld partners, and for LATAM users who collect their points, it’s a big loss as South American prices are surprisingly high and points users ameliorate costs.
For OneWorld it’s something of a blow as it leaves them with no presence in South America. It’s unlikely code shares will cease but it makes life more difficult for regular travellers.
American Airlines still has the biggest US-South America network and British Airways flies to most of the major cities directly or in connection with American.
The difference with OneWorld is that it has no driving force airline. Delta is the core of Skyteam and Lufthansa of Star Alliance – and both use it relentlessly to drive their own ambitions, but OneWorld is a far less motivated and loose arrangement.
Many of OneWorld’s members have few links and have frequently had dramatically divergent approaches – indeed rows with other members.
Qantas and Cathay Pacific were for a long period barely on speaking terms, American and Qatar have virtually no relationship, and Qatar has often said it would leave if American carried on persecuting it with the other USB3 airlines.