August 11, 2016 / 2:32 PM / 2 years ago

Chilean court to examine market effects of LATAM Airlines joint venture

SANTIAGO, Aug 11 (Reuters) - A Chilean court accepted a petition from a business group late on Wednesday to examine the effects on free competition of agreements Santiago-based LATAM Airlines signed earlier this year with American Airlines Group and European airline group IAG.

In the petition, the Chilean Association of Tourism Companies asked Chile’s TDLC anti-monopoly court for an “absolute rejection” of the accord, saying “it will cause grave harm for competition, seriously affecting the tourism market, travel agencies, tourism operators and consumers.”

LATAM said the agreement conformed to anti-monopoly rules and would benefit consumers, expanding its network to more than 420 destinations in the United States, Canada and Europe.

“This type of agreement has already been approved by diverse free competition authorities throughout the world, including the United States and Europe, who have recognized its benefits,” LATAM said in a statement.

In January, LATAM signed joint business agreements to deepen its ties with American Airlines and IAG’s British Airways and Iberia, all members of the Oneworld Alliance.

If approved by authorities, the agreements would help the airlines coordinate schedules and prices for flights, similar to the North Atlantic revenue-sharing agreement that already exists between IAG and American.

The agreement would affect flights in a broad swath of Latin America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

The anti-monopoly court has opened a 30-day window for parties to present new filings regarding the LATAM Airlines case. (Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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