Travel boost for South America as airlines agree to merge

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The Independent Travel

Brazilian airline TAM is to merge with Chilean rival LAN, the companies announced last week, creating a Latin American "supercarrier" that could be good news for travelers.

If approved, the deal will create an airline that will strengthen transport links between Latin America and the rest of the world, flying to over 115 destinations in 23 countries.

In their joint announcement, the airlines said that their primary growth areas included routes between Brazil and Europe/Africa, as well as routes between Lima and North and Central America, pointing out that jointly the carriers will be able to offer destinations neither could have managed alone.

The deal is set to make the joint airline the second biggest carrier between North America and South America, creating considerable price competition with American Airlines, which currently holds top spot.

In between South America and Europe, the combined airline would be the fourth largest, behind British Airways/Iberia, Air France/KLM and Portuguese carrier TAP.

But it's not all good news - as the airlines are currently members of competing airline alliances (LAN is a member of oneworld, while TAM is part of Star Alliance), the likelihood seems to be that one of the alliances will be dropped, potentially damaging links into the region for the passengers of other member airlines of that alliance.

Airline analyst the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said that the previous consolidation seen from airlines such as Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways/Iberia will "pale in comparison to the effect that this group will have on its home turf."

http://www.latamairlines.com

http://www.centreforaviation.com

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