LAN CEO and Latin American airline industry visionary Enrique Cueto will serve as the CEO of new Latin American airline group LATAM.

LAN and TAM, which unveiled plans to merge today, say they have already "agreed to a governance model to jointly manage strategic decisions related to the alignment of the activities of LATAM group holdings". They say at the top of this governance model will be Mauricio Rolim Amaro as LATAM chairman and Enrique Cueto as LATAM CEO.

Amaro is currently the vice-chairman of the holding company which TAM created earlier this year. He is the son of TAM founder Captain Rolim Amaro, who died in 2001. Over the last 50 years the Amaro family have grown TAM from a small air taxi company to Brazil's main flag carrier and the largest airline group in Latin America.

Cueto has been CEO of Chile-based LAN for 16 years. He and his family have expanded the company from a tiny flag carrier in one of South America's smaller markets with annual revenues of only $300 million to a Latin American powerhouse with airline subsidiaries throughout the region.

TAM's holding company is currently chaired by Maria Claudia Amaro, Captain Rolim Amaro's daughter with Marco Bologna acting as the holding company's CEO. Libano Barroso is currently president of TAM's airline unit. The three will remain in their current roles at TAM after LATAM is established.

Meanwhile, LAN COO Ignacio Cueto will move up to replace his brother as CEO of LAN.

Enrique Cueto in a statement says LAN is already "a true leader in Latin America [but] as the industry consolidates, we cannot stand still".

"Today we announced our intention to join forces with our friends at TAM, setting forth on a journey that will create one of the leading airline groups in the world," he adds. "We have great admiration and respect for our friends at TAM and have enjoyed many years of collaboration. They share our passion for service, for integrity and our belief in the great potential of the Latin American market. With this combination, we take two Latin American leaders and create a global leader that will make Latin Americans proud."

Bologna, who served as TAM's CEO from 2003 to 2007 and returned earlier this year as CEO of the newly created holding company, says: "This is the completion of the vision of our founder, Captain Rolim, who believed that in an open skies market, a large Latin American airline group would provide much more competitive services to our passengers and cargo customers. Combining our strengths and complementary networks will bring great benefits to our customers, employees, shareholders and Latin America.

"Together, LAN and TAM will be able to offer new destinations that neither company could have supported on its own. This will position us to compete with the foreign carriers that continue to increase service to our region while creating new jobs in our home countries."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news