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LATAM confident that planned JVs will prevail in Chile

LATAM Airlines Group is confident that the airline's planned joint ventures with Oneworld partners American Airlines and IAG will prevail, following last-minute appeals in Chile against the deals.

LATAM chief executive Enrique Cueto tells FlightGlobal that he believes Chile's supreme court, which will listen to the appeals, will uphold the decision of Chile's anti-trust tribunal which had cleared the deals earlier this month. At least three Chilean organisations, including a tourism group and consumer rights body, have opposed the planned joint ventures on anti-competitive grounds.

"It's a process that has taken more than two and a half years involving a technical group, with the result of several mitigation measures," says Cueto, pointing to the long wait for the tribunal's decision.

LATAM has said it will accept the tribunal's conditions, in exchange for implementing the joint ventures. These conditions include a requirement for LATAM to maintain capacity on its nonstop routes from Santiago to both Miami and Madrid, and to add capacity on routes to North America and Europe.

Cueto, who was speaking with FlightGlobal on the sidelines of the IATA Aviation Day Colombia in Bogota, says it would be hard to imagine that Chile's supreme court could overturn a decision that had taken years for the country's anti-trust tribunal to arrive at.

Despite this, LATAM is in discussions with partner IAG to potentially implement their joint venture outside Chile, says Cueto. He expects that it could take at least another six months before Chile's supreme court rules on the appeals from Chilean organisations against the proposed joint ventures.

The planned joint venture between LATAM and American requires US Department of Transportation approval which could take "a year or two", acknowledges Cueto.

LATAM first unveiled plans for the joint ventures with American and IAG in early 2016.

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