Nearly three years after it was announced, Delta's joint venture with LATAM for routes between the U.S. and South America has gotten approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The approval, matching one already received from Chile's government, will allow the two airlines to essentially act as one in that market, sharing scheduling, prices and other aspects. The practice is similar to the one Delta is part of with AirFrance/KLM and Virgin Atlantic in the U.S.-to-Europe market.
DOT attached some conditions to the approval, including requiring the airlines to keep their existing interline agreements with other carriers, and setting a 10-year limit to the agreement, after which renewal would be subject to new government approval.
The plan was first announced in September 2019 when, in a shock announcement, Delta acquired 20% of LATAM's shares, breaking LATAM's long-time alignment with American Airlines. LATAM quickly left American's OneWorld alliance to join Delta in SkyTeam. The plan has survived LATAM's pandemic-induced bankruptcy.