A new trend towards codesharing between Latin American airlines is beginning to take hold.

Carriers belonging to intra-regional groupings, such as those in Grupo TACA and LanChile's units in Peru, Ecuador, and Dominican Republic, have routinely codeshared with each other. So have other Latin carriers with North American partners, such as Aeromexico with Delta Air Lines, and Panama-based Copa with Continental Airlines.

Until now, however, the region's airlines have usually shunned one another. But this is starting to change. The first breakthrough came early this year with the agreement between TAM and Varig to codeshare on routes within Brazil, more recently extended to Buenos Aires and Paris.

The deal is something of a hybrid, however, because they plan to integrate ownership and operations in a manner akin to a merger.

Since then Copa and Mexicana have launched the first codeshare between Latin carriers truly unaffiliated at a regional level. The airlines now share codes between Cancun, Mexico City and Panama.

As a result, Mexicana has been able to cut capacity on these routes in favour of flights operated by Copa. Neither carrier seems concerned that Mexicana is part of the Star Alliance, while Copa is partnered with Continental.

The decision by Colombia's Alianza Summa to codeshare with TACA Peru represents the most recent example of this trend. Since late July TACA Peru has been adding its code to a daily Bogota-Lima flight operated by Summa's Aces.

This may be a modest start, but both carriers see it leading to closer co-operation on other routes - something that has been rare among Latin airlines.

Source: Airline Business