South American airline LATAM has left the Oneworld alliance today.
LATAM Airlines announced its intention to exit Oneworld in September 2019, initially proposing an October 2020 departure date. This was later brought forward to 1 May 2020.
Although LATAM Airlines has departed the Oneworld alliance, it retains extensive partnerships with some Oneworld member airlines including Qantas. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can continue to earn and redeem points on LATAM Airlines flights. However, you’ll no longer be able to include LATAM Airlines flights as part of a Oneworld round-the-world ticket or a Oneworld Classic Flight Reward booked using Qantas points from today.
Some Qantas Frequent Flyer benefits retained
Qantas has promised that its frequent flyers will also continue to earn status credits for LATAM flights until the end of September 2020, which is when LATAM Airlines originally planned to leave the alliance. But this is a special and temporary benefit for Qantas Frequent Flyer members, and it is unlikely many Australians will be flying with LATAM Airlines between now and September anyway due to the Australian border closure.
Beyond October 2020, you’ll only earn Qantas status credits for codeshare flights booked with a “QF” flight number. For LATAM-marketed flights with a “LA” flight number, you can still earn Qantas points but not status credits.
Qantas codeshare tickets are available on LATAM Airlines’ flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland to Santiago. (In fact, you can even request a Qantas points upgrade on those specific Qantas-marketed flights if booked on a “QF” flight number.) Qantas codeshares are also available from Santiago to a limited selection of cities in South America including Lima and São Paulo.
LATAM commences new partnership with Delta
LATAM Airlines had previously enjoyed a strong relationship with Oneworld’s American Airlines on routes between North and South America, having even applied for a joint venture (which was rejected by Chilean authorities because it was deemed anti-competitive). But LATAM Airlines has now severed ties with American Airlines in favour of a close relationship with Delta Air Lines. Delta’s partnership with LATAM officially commenced on 1 April 2020.
Delta, a member of the SkyTeam alliance, has also purchased an equity stake in LATAM Airlines. But LATAM Airlines has always maintained that it has no interest in joining the SkyTeam alliance, which Delta publicly
criticised savaged last year just weeks before announcing the LATAM Airlines tie-up and Oneworld exit.
LATAM leaves Oneworld alliance with a big hole
LATAM’s exit leaves a huge hole in the Oneworld alliance, which no longer has a single member airline based in South America. There are no obvious contenders to replace it, either, other than perhaps GOL Airlines (a low-cost carrier operating short-haul flights out of Brazil).
Royal Air Maroc joined Oneworld at the beginning of April 2020, becoming the first alliance member based in the African continent. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines has announced its intention to join Oneworld in 2021.
Most LATAM flights grounded due to COVID-19
LATAM Airlines is currently operating a skeleton network of flights due to the COVID-19 shutdown. It has temporarily suspended all flights to Australia until at least June, although this will almost certainly be extended.
As it happens, LATAM Airlines currently has some outstanding sale fares available from Australia to South America for travel in October and November 2020. Economy fares are available for just $762 return, and Business class is under $3,000 round-trip. But, with so much uncertainty surrounding the current travel restrictions and border closures, we simply cannot recommend booking these record low airfares at this time.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Delta buys 20% of LATAM, which will exit oneworld