United, Copa and Avianca just reached a major agreement that covers travel between the United States and 275 destinations throughout Latin America. A total of 19 countries throughout Central America and South America are involved. While regulatory approval is still needed, the agreement appears to be a done deal.
All three airlines are already connected through their membership in the Star Alliance. However, a new agreement that excludes other airlines will help all three of the carriers to offer more to their customers. The new agreement will allow the three carriers to share revenues, coordinate flight times and align their rewards programs more effectively. Few details are known beyond that. It’s too soon to say if travelers should be exited. It’s also too soon to say when travelers can expect the joint venture to become official.
One country that has been noticeably left out of the new agreement involving United, Copa and Avianca is Brazil. However, the idea of adding Brazil is being explored currently. The notion of Brazil joining the agreement is becoming more realistic now that a new open-skies agreement between Brazil and the United States has been ratified.
What does each airline bring to the table in the new joint venture between United, Copa and Avianca? Avianca is known for its hubs in Bogotá, Lima and San Salvador. The airline currently serves a total of 10 cities within the United States. Copa is known for its hub in Panama City. That airline currently serves a total of 13 cities within the United States. Both of the airlines are bringing their extensive networks throughout Latin America into the new agreement with United. Of course, United offers the other two airlines access to more cities in the Untied States and the ability to tap into a larger network of customers.
The new agreement between United, Copa and Avianca definitely shares some similarities with the joint venture between American Airlines and LATAM. In fact, a new joint venture between United, Copa and Avianca will stand in direct competition with that pairing if and when it does go through. American and LATAM made an announcement regarding their intention to seek antitrust immunity back in 2016. The two airlines did so in an effort to begin marketing, scheduling and operating flights between countries in North America and South America. The arrangement gives American Airlines more access to destinations throughout Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay.