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Chile approves planned LATAM JVs with American and IAG

Chile's anti-trust tribunal has approved LATAM Airlines Group's proposed joint ventures with American Airlines and IAG, clearing a long-pending hurdle for Latin America's largest airline and its Oneworld partners.

The approval from the tribunal, however, comes with conditions. These include requiring LATAM to maintain its capacity on its nonstop routes from Santiago to both Miami and Madrid, and to add capacity on routes to North America and Europe.

"LATAM Airlines Group is currently analysing the implications of the TDLC's mitigation measures and will communicate its position once they have been evaluated in depth," says the Santiago-based carrier.

Government regulators typically require airlines to divest assets like airport slots or flight frequencies, as a condition for granting anti-trust approval for joint ventures.

LATAM first announced plans to form joint ventures with American and IAG in early 2016, but regulatory approvals have taken longer than expected.

"This decision, in principle, is an important precedent for aviation in our region. As has been demonstrated in other parts of the world where JBAs [joint business agreements] are already a reality, this is an opportunity to ensure growth for the industry, increase passenger traffic and bring Chile closer to the world as well as promote tourism, business travel and the economy through aviation," says LATAM chief executive Enrique Cueto.

Cueto told FlightGlobal last week that he believed Chilean anti-trust approvals would come in November.

The proposed LATAM-American joint venture will cover routes to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. IAG's joint venture with LATAM will include routes to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The airline has previously secured approvals from regulators in Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. With the Chilean approval in hand, the airline is expected to soon file for anti-trust immunity with the US Department of Transportation for the proposed joint venture with American.

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