LATAM Exits Oneworld On May 1, 2020

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LATAM and Delta Air Lines announced (read more here) on September 26, 2019, that the US airline had taken a 20% stake in its Latin American counterpart that would, as a result of this investment, exit Oneworld in due course.

Airlines usually need to give an alliance 12 months notice of their withdrawal. Qantas posted on its website in November (read more here) that LATAM partnership would end on October 1, 2020. In December, LATAM sent out an update (read more here) to its frequent fliers that they are in the process of accelerating the exit.

LATAM and Oneworld have today announced that the airline would exit the alliance on May 1, 2020. Frequent flier benefits are valid through April 30, 2020.

LATAM intends to continue to have bilateral relationships with following Oneworld airlines:

  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

As you can see, the only Oneworld airline not included is American Airlines.

LATAM’s press release indicates that they are in the process of negotiating earning and redeeming, reciprocal lounge access, and other frequent flier benefits with these airlines. It remains to be seen, however, how deep it can be outside of an alliance.

Royal Air Maroc’s frequent fliers won’t receive Oneworld benefits for the short period (April) as it enter’s Oneworld and LATAM exits the alliance.

Here’s the announcement from Oneworld:

LATAM Airlines Group will end its membership in the oneworld® alliance effective 1 May 2020, following the group’s decision to leave the alliance.

oneworld benefits for LATAM customers will be offered on oneworld flights up to and including 30 April 2020. LATAM Pass members will not receive oneworld frequent flyer benefits offered by Royal Air Maroc, which joins oneworld effective 1 April. LATAM will not offer oneworld frequent flyer member benefits to Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer members.

oneworld member airlines will continue to serve more than 30 airports in Central and South America, with more than 100 flights to and from the region daily, offered by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Qantas, Qatar Airways as well as member-elect Royal Air Maroc.

A number of oneworld member airlines plan to maintain frequent flyer agreements with LATAM after 30 April. Customers are advised to contact their airlines or visit the airlines’ frequent flyer programme websites for more information.

For more information on oneworld benefits as LATAM withdraws from the alliance, please refer to the FAQs below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I redeem award seats on LATAM as a frequent flyer of other oneworld member airlines?

Until and including 30 April 2020, frequent flyer programme members across oneworld member frequent flyer programmes will be able to redeem miles/points for award seats on LATAM.*

LATAM Pass frequent flyer programme members may also redeem miles/points for award seats on oneworld carriers until and including 30 April 2020.*

All redemption tickets that have been ticketed up to 30 April 2020 remain valid for travel, however, customers will not be eligible for oneworld tier status benefits if travel occurs after 30 April 2020.

A number of oneworld member airlines plan to maintain frequent flyer agreements with LATAM after 30 April. Customers are advised to contact their airlines for more information.

*Excludes Royal Air Maroc

Can I earn frequent flyer rewards and tier status points as a frequent flyer of other oneworld member airlines when I travel on LATAM?

Frequent flyer members in any oneworld frequent flyer programme will be able to earn rewards and tier status points on LATAM marketed and operated flights in accordance with the rules outlined by each member airline until and including 30 April 2020.*

LATAM Pass frequent flyer programme members may also continue to earn rewards and tier status points on other oneworld carriers until and including 30 April 2020.*

A number of oneworld member airlines plan to maintain frequent flyer agreements with LATAM after 30 April. Customers are advised to contact their airlines for more information.

*Excludes Royal Air Maroc

Can I access LATAM lounges as a oneworld frequent flyer?

Emerald and Sapphire tier members of all other oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes may continue to use LATAM lounges until and including 30 April 2020, in line with oneworld’s existing arrangements.*

LATAM Pass Black Signature, Black and Platinum cardholders will be able to use the lounges of other oneworld member airlines until and including 30 April 2020, in line with oneworld’s existing arrangements.*

After 30 April, a number of oneworld member airlines plan to maintain frequent flyer agreements with LATAM, which may include lounge access. Customers are advised to contact their airlines for more information.

*Excludes Royal Air Maroc

Will I receive other oneworld benefits when I travel with LATAM?

Members of all other oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will continue to receive all other oneworld frequent flyer services and benefits (additional baggage allowances, priority check-in, boarding, waitlisting, etc.) when they fly on LATAM until and including 30 April 2020.*

Likewise, members of LATAM Pass will continue to receive all other oneworld frequent flyer services and benefits when they fly on the other oneworld airlines until and including 30 April 2020.*

A number of oneworld member airlines plan to maintain frequent flyer agreements with LATAM after 30 April. Customers are advised to contact their airlines for more information.

*Excludes Royal Air Maroc

I am a LATAM Pass member, will I receive oneworld benefits offered by Royal Air Maroc?

Royal Air Maroc will not provide oneworld benefits to LATAM Pass members, including but not limited to frequent flyer accrual redemption and top tier airport benefits, such as Lounge Access, Priority Boarding and Check-in, priority waitlist and standby, and access to priority baggage benefits.

I am a Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer member, will I receive oneworld benefits offered by LATAM?

LATAM will not provide oneworld benefits to Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer members, including but not limited to frequent flyer accrual redemption and top tier airport benefits, such as Lounge Access, Priority Boarding and Check-in, priority waitlist and standby, and access to priority baggage benefits.

I am a customer of oneworld fare products (oneworld Explorer, Global Explorer, and Circle Pacific). How will I be affected?

All sectors on LATAM and its affiliates booked and ticketed as part of a oneworld fare product remain valid even if travel occurs after 30 April 2020, as long as ticketed on or before 30 April 2020.

Customers flying on LATAM will not be eligible for oneworld tier status benefits if travel occurs after 30 April 2020.

I have a ticket for a flight on LATAM, issued by a oneworld member. Will my travel plans be affected?

Tickets issued for travel on LATAM by other oneworld member airlines will remain valid for travel. Please contact the ticketing airline in case of any changes to your travel.

I have a ticket for a flight operated by another oneworld member, issued by LATAM. Will my travel plans be affected?

Tickets issued for travel on other oneworld members by LATAM remain valid for travel. Please contact LATAM in case of any changes to your travel.

Here’s the statement from LATAM:

Santiago, Chile – January 31, 2020. LATAM Airlines Group (‘LATAM’) announced that it has agreed with oneworld to depart the alliance, effective May 1, 2020. Up to and including April 30, 2020, there will be no change to the reciprocal benefits offered on all oneworld member flights*.

From May 1, 2020 onwards, LATAM will maintain its existing bilateral agreements with the majority of oneworld members (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines), and continue to offer the following customer benefits:

 Flight purchases via latam.com and partner airline websites to over 1,000 destinations worldwide

 Earn and redeem frequent flyer miles via respective loyalty programs

 Reciprocal lounge access, subject to final agreement with individual carriers

 Top tier recognition in respective frequent flyer programs, subject to final agreement with individual carriers

*The above does not apply to Royal Air Maroc that will join oneworld, effective April 1.

Termination of frequent flyer agreement with American Airlines

With LATAM’s departure from oneworld, the airline group will end its frequent flyer and reciprocal lounge access agreements with American Airlines. Effective May 1, 2020, LATAM Pass members will not be able to earn or redeem miles on American Airlines flights or access American Airlines lounges. However, LATAM will honor all award tickets on American Airlines flights that have been redeemed with LATAM Pass miles prior to May 1, 2020, for up to 12 months following this date.

In addition, LATAM will continue to honor mile accumulation outside of the frequent flyer agreement for LATAM Pass members who have purchased tickets prior to May 1, 2020 for American Airlines flights up to 12 months following this date.

Advances in the LATAM-Delta framework agreement

Starting February 1, 2020, LATAM will relocate its operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York City) from Terminal 8 to Terminal 4, where Delta serves over 90 destinations in the United States, Canada and worldwide, paving the way for smoother connections between LATAM and Delta flights. LATAM Premium Business and top tier LATAM Pass members (Black Signature, Black and Platinum) will also have lounge access in Terminal 4.

Regulatory approval has been received by authorities in the United States and Colombia for the codeshares announced in December 2019 between Delta and LATAM Airlines Peru, LATAM Airlines Colombia and LATAM Airlines Ecuador respectively. LATAM’s affiliates in Brazil and Chile also plan to establish codeshare agreements with Delta during 2020. In parallel, LATAM is negotiating agreements with Delta to establish reciprocal lounge access and frequent flyer benefits, which are anticipated to be in place during the first half of 2020.

These changes are part of the ongoing work to implement the framework agreement announced by LATAM and Delta in September 2019, which includes a proposed strategic alliance to combine the carriers’ highly complementary route networks and provide customers with a seamless travel experience and greater connectivity to over 435 destinations worldwide, subject to governmental and regulatory approvals.

Conclusion

LATAM intends to maintain the same reciprocal benefits for its frequent fliers with all current Oneworld Alliance airlines except American. Most airlines only give elite qualifying miles/segments/points for their own and alliance flights, excluding other partners. I am very doubtful that LATAM could maintain the same level of partnership with these airlines as they have within an alliance.

TAM (LATAM’s Brazilian part) used to be a partner with American before it became part of Star Alliance for four years (2010 – 2014). After merging with LAN, the name of the combined entity became LATAM, and TAM exited Star Alliance to become part of Oneworld.

Now after Delta bought its share (Qatar also owns a piece of the airline), the airline was forced to sever its ties with American Airlines that lead to the alliance exit. Considering that LATAM intends to partner with all other existing partners, it is unlikely that they would join SkyTeam, which Delta is a founding partner of.

I was in touch with LATAM’s spokesperson about what will happen with their partnership with Alaska Airlines. We were told that today’s announcement does not affect partnerships outside of Oneworld. It remains to be seen if Delta allows this partnership to continue. Delta severed its ties with Alaska in 2017 (read more here).

If one travels around South America, it is difficult not to fly on LATAM, considering that they have operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru. This is a regrettable development for LATAM and Oneworld frequent fliers.

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