The push for metal neutrality continues!
During an airline conference in Houston today, United CEO Jeff Smisek announced that United Airlines is interested in forming a trans-border joint venture with Air Canada and a joint venture with an airline or airlines in Latin America.
Joint ventures require regulatory approval and are more than just marketing agreements. Carriers craft flight schedules together, deciding what time to fly between destinations and how much to charge for tickets. Furthermore, they share the route’s profits instead of competing with one another.
United already has entered a joint venture with Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Canada for transatlantic routes and recently won approval for a joint venture with Japan’s All Nippon Airways.
Today, Smisek expressed hope for further partnerships:
“Latin America is an area that we’re keenly interested in,” Smisek said. “We’re also looking at potentially having a transborder joint venture with our friends at Air Canada.”
Winning the award for random statement of the day, Smisek added, "Our loyalty program has more members than there are French citizens worldwide. It’s a huge program." Indeed it is–and that may encourage LATAM, the merged airline of Chile’s LAN (currently a OneWorld member) and Brazil’s TAM (a Star Alliance member) to decide to join Star Alliance over OneWorld.
Naturally, American Airlines will seek their own joint venture with LATAM, but the fact that United is now world’s largest airlines and Star Alliance has more members and reaches more places than either OneWorld or SkyTeam may make a partnership with United and a migration to Star Alliance more likely.
Update: Added clarification of trans-border – thanks Hans for pointing this out