Qatar Airways Expands LATAM Codesharing Amid Delta Acquisition

Qatar Airways has announced an expanded codeshare agreement with LATAM. The news comes within weeks of Delta Air Lines’ acquiring a 20% stake of the Chilean airline.

Qatar A350-1000
An expanded codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and LATAM Airlines has been announced. Photo: Qatar Airways

In its most recent press release, Qatar stated that the codeshare agreement comes into force “with immediate effect”. The move is timed unquestionably to buck Delta following its recent purchase of a fifth of LATAM.

Writes Qatar Airways, “The bilateral codeshare will provide Qatar Airways passengers with connections to destinations throughout Brazil and South America including Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Curitiba, Lima and Bogota to name a few.”

LATAM will place its “JJ” code on Qatar flights between Doha and São Paulo. It will add 25 other destinations within Africa, Asia and the Middle East to its manifest.

Financially critical

The agreement with Qatar will prove financially critical for the South American airline. After announcing its departure from Oneworld, LATAM envisaged its future success to be determined by its alliance with Qatar as well as Delta.

Writes The Points Guy, Ramiro Alfonsin, chief financial officer of LATAM, said the future of the airline’s unaligned ambitions now lay with, “Two major airlines, Delta and Qatar.” That hope may prove naively idealistic however. If the feud between the two shareholders continues unabated there could be trouble ahead for all three.

We have contacted Qatar Airways for more information but have not yet received a reply.

Delta Airlines vs The Rest of the World

Delta’s purchase of 20% of LATAM was deemed a strategic purchase by industry analysts who believe Delta’s mission worldwide is to prevent Middle Eastern carriers from hogging North American routes.

Delta 717 landing
Delta’s reasoning for its purchase did not go unnoticed. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Delta, along with American and United, have not held back. In recent months all three have condemned what they perceive to be a Middle Eastern flaunting of the 2002 Open Skies agreement.

Delta even lobbied the US government in July of this year to effect sanctions against Qatar, Emirates and Etihad.

In conjunction with Delta’s complaint, American Airlines cited Qatar’s investment in new blood, Air Italy as an example of the Middle Eastern bum rush. Air Italy’s new routes to the States, American maintained, constitute an expansion by stealth of a state-subsidized airline.

As if that wasn’t enough, Delta’s Ed Bastian appears to have some sort of personal vendetta against Qatar boss Akbar Al Baker. A promotional video intended to “level the playing field for US airlines” seemed to do nothing but make clear Bastian’s insular view of Arab culture.

Qatar Airways fight back

Delta’s purchase may well be viewed as a blow by Qatar Airways. Especially in light of its owning just 10% of LATAM. But Qatar’s expansion of its codeshare agreement will be regarded by some observers as a suitable come-back.

With the new deal come bilateral connections for Qatar Airways. The agreement will enable it to penetrate the industry markets of Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Curitiba, Lima and Bogota.

Qatar Airways, Boeing 777, Engine Hole
Qatar plays the game and enjoys another surge of routes. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Qatar will take expansion in whatever form. To expand within the Americas could feasibly be seen as a thorn in the side of Delta.

In its press release, Qatar quoted its boss as saying of the deal, “We were delighted to welcome LATAM’s board and senior management to Doha. And to have had such productive discussions about how we can continue to work together to benefit our millions of passengers and cargo customers.

Since 2017, Qatar Airways has witnessed the significant benefits that codeshare cooperation has brought. Providing passengers with unrivaled service and a seamless connection between South America and the Middle-East and Asia.”

What’s next?

How this rivalry between Qatar and Delta will pan out remains to be seen. We suggested several suitable Qatari responses to Delta’s 20% stake in LATAM. Now with Al Baker and Bastian sitting in the same board room – having both played a hand – the stage is set for a hoedown.