Delta signs joint venture agreement with South American airline group

Delta Air Lines has signed a joint venture agreement with the South American airline group LATAM, another step in a partnership between the two companies announced last fall.

The joint venture is subject to regulatory approval, and if approved, it will allow Atlanta-based Delta and LATAM Airlines Group to combine their route networks between North America and South America.

"Even as our carriers contend with the impact of COVID-19 on our business and take steps to protect the safety of our customers and employees, we are also building the airline alliance we know they'll want to fly in the future," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a written statement.

Delta announced in September that its plans to buy a 20% stake in LATAM for $1.9 billion and form a joint venture subject to antitrust immunity approval that it said could take up to two years.

Delta completed its tender offer for the $1.9 billion stake in LATAM in December.

So far, the two carriers have already struck code-share marketing agreements for Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru service -- enabling them to sell each other's flights, allowing for easier connecting itineraries. They are also allowing their frequent fliers to earn and use miles on the partner carrier.