October 31, 2018 / 11:02 PM / 15 days ago

Chilean antitrust court approves LATAM tie-up with American, IAG: LATAM

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wait to check in for their flights at the departures area of Latam airlines inside the international airport in Santiago, Chile August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s antitrust court has approved a plan by LATAM Airlines LAN.SN, the region’s largest carrier, to deepen its ties with American Airlines Group (AAL.O) and IAG’s (ICAG.L) British Airways and Iberia, LATAM Airlines said in a statement.

The company’s chief executive said the TDLC court had approved the link up between the aviation firms, all members of the Oneworld Alliance, in relation to both passenger and cargo planes.

“This decision sets an important precedent for commercial aviation in our region,” said Enrique Cueto. “As has been shown in other parts of the world where these alliances already exist, it represents an opportunity to ensure the growth of the industry, increase passenger traffic and generate more tourism and business travel and bolster the economy.”

The agreements have already been approved by authorities in Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil.

In November 2016, Chile’s FNE competition regulator said the so-called Joint Business Agreements between Chile-headquartered LATAM, American Airlines Group Inc and IAG risked increasing fares and lowering quality on routes. Its comments raised fears that the country’s TDLC antitrust court might reject the deal.

The JBAs will allow the airlines to coordinate schedules and prices for flights, similar to the North Atlantic revenue-sharing agreement which already exists between IAG and American Airlines.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the ruling with the court.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing

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