August 21, 2018 / 9:20 PM / 8 months ago

United Airlines sees deal soon on Latin American joint ventures

DENVER (Reuters) - United Continental Holdings Inc UAL.N is eying joint ventures with three Latin American carriers in the near future, but a deal would not immunize the U.S. airline from the “ups and downs” of the region’s volatile market, President Scott Kirby said on Tuesday.

“I think we will get it done in the not so distant future, but hard to predict an exact time,” he said at the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver. “All of the turmoil in Latin America makes things complicated.”

United, the third-largest U.S. passenger carrier, is trying to finalise joint-venture agreements with Colombian airline Avianca Holdings AVT_p.CN, Panama’s Copa Airlines (CPA.N) and Brazil’s Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AZUL.N).

Such deals would improve connectivity between the U.S. and Latin American aviation markets and create growth opportunities, he told reporters on the sidelines of the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver.

Latin American airlines have experienced a turbulent few years with increased competition in Mexico putting some of its carriers under pressure while dominant regional economy Brazil plunged into a once-in-a-generation recession that it has struggled to recover from.

Kirby also told reporters on the sidelines of the conference that United is looking to add lie-flat beds in business class in 2020 on some of its Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX 10 narrow-bodies that would fly domestic routes.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Denver; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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