LanChile's defection from LatinPass is the latest in a series of withdrawals from the regional frequent flyer programme, leaving just 10 Latin airline members.

Enrique Cueto, LanChile's chief executive, claims that LanChile's withdrawal from LatinPass does not relate to its plan to start frequent flyer reciprocity with American Airlines in May. 'We weren't getting any benefit from LatinPass,' complains Cueto, who says there are only two or three 'credible' frequent flyer programmes in the US.

LanChile's codeshare agreement with American Airlines awaits government approval, but no approval is needed for their reciprocal frequent flyer arrangement. The LanChile-AA agreement does not require FFP exclusivity. American's alliance with Central America's Taca group also covers FFP reciprocity, but Taca group members still belong to LatinPass.

Federico Bloch, Taca CEO, has previously said Taca passengers can choose whether to collect miles for LatinPass or AAdvantage. LatinPass was formed in 1995 as a way for regional carriers to recapture frequent flyers being lost to US airlines. Instead of cooperating against US carriers, however, the trend has been for individual Latin carriers to forge their own alliances with US airlines or other airlines in the region. Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, for instance, withdrew from LatinPass after it became part of the Vasp group of carriers.

Three withdrawals have been made by airlines that stopped international flights, namely Ladeco, Viasa, and Faucett. The other defections have been Aeromexico, AeroPeru, Aeropostal, and Sahsa from Honduras.

Source: Airline Business