CEO Christoph Franz has not yet given up on efforts to add the newly emerging LATAM Airlines group to . “We hope we can persuade LATAM that Star is the best alliance for them,” Franz said yesterday. He said that given the recent ruling by Chile’s antitrust authority, a quick decision is necessary.
The authority said in its conditional approval of the merger of TAM andthat the new group cannot be in the same alliance as its main competitor, AviancaTaca. LAN CEO Enrique Cueto, who will be CEO of LATAM, told Aviation Week last week that being part of the same alliance as did not make strategic sense for the group. LAN is currently a member of Oneworld, while TAM joined Star in 2010. AviancaTaca has been accepted as a candidate, but is only planned to join in May 2012.
However, neither Cueto nor Franz ruled out that there could still be a way for LATAM to become a member of Star. This would mean that Star Alliance would have to quickly find a way to get out of the commitment with AviancaTaca.
Franz defended the decision to pursue a deal with AviancaTaca in the first place. He stated that “it would not have been responsible to focus on only one partner.” Even if LATAM decided in favor of another alliance (and therefore TAM would leave Star again), he argued that with AviancaTaca (and Copa), Star would still have a significant presence in the region.