While Latin America is not the region that immediately comes to mind when one thinks of the world's mega carriers, the region's airlines signalled in 2013 their ambitions to expand further. Following recent years of consolidation, South America's carriers took steps this year to show that they are serious about competing on the world stage.
Viva Airbus: Mexico’s VivaAerobus made headlines when it announced the largest Airbus order ever made by a single airline in Latin America, with a deal for 52 Airbus A320 family aircraft. More notably, the airline will use the A320s to replace its all-Boeing 737 fleet by 2016 - a move that pained Boeing.
TAM's alliance move: Brazil’s TAM hardly surprised anyone when it decided to join Oneworld, with effect from 31 March 2014. TAM’s departure from the Star Alliance was sealed after it finalised a merger with LAN to form LATAM Airlines Group. Conditions tagged on the merger required LATAM to be in a different alliance from the other Latin American airline group Avianca, which joined Star in mid-2012. TAM's departure from Star left a void for the alliance in Brazil, the world's third largest domestic market. But the alliance later announced that Avianca Brazil will join Star in 2014.
Azul and Trip seal the deal: Brazil anti-trust authorities approved the merger between Azul and Trip, which boosted the market share of Azul, already the country’s third biggest airline before the merger. Azul and Trip have a combined network of more than 100 destinations.
IPO ambitions: Latin American airlines Avianca and Volaris debuted on the New York stock exchange, making it clear that they plan to grow not just in their own region. Avianca said the milestone will drive the airline’s plans to modernise and expand, while Volaris plans to use proceeds from its initial public offering to fund its fleet.
Brazil's airports go private: Brazil carried on with airport privatisations, awarding $9 billion worth of concessions for Rio de Janeiro Galeao and Belo Horizonte Confins. The contracts formed the second round of privatisations of the country’s main airports, following a first round in 2012 that came under heavy criticism.