United Airlines today announced it has reached an agreement with Compañía Panameña de Aviación S.A. (Copa), Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A. (Avianca) and many of Avianca’s affiliates, for a joint business agreement (JBA) that, pending government approval, is expected to provide substantial benefits for customers, communities and the marketplace for air travel between the United States and 19 countries in Central and South America.
By integrating their complementary route networks into a collaborative revenue-sharing JBA, United, Avianca and Copa plan to offer customers many benefits, including:
- Integrated, seamless service in more than 12,000 city pairs
- New nonstop routes
- Additional flights on existing routes
- Reduced travel times
The carriers expect the JBA to drive significant traffic growth at major gateway cities coast to coast, which is expected to help bring new investment and create more economic development opportunities. Further, the JBA is expected to provide customers with expanded codeshare flight options, competitive fares, a more streamlined travel experience and better customer service, resulting in significant projected consumer benefits.
Additionally, allowing the three carriers to serve customers as if they were a single airline is expected to enable the companies to better align their frequent flyer programs, coordinate flight schedules and improve airport facilities.
Although JBAs have been proven around the world to benefit consumers and enhance competition, currently 99 percent of the U.S. carrier passenger traffic that makes connections in Central and South America does so without a JBA. Competition in the U.S.-Latin American market has grown and includes a diverse set of carriers offering service across multiple price points. Yet the market lacks a comprehensive revenue-sharing, metal-neutral network of carriers and the associated heightened competitive forces that drive value and better consumer experiences. The JBA represents an innovative, best-in-class new product offering that will make competition in this robust market even stronger.
To enable the deep coordination required to deliver these benefits to consumers, communities and the marketplace, United, Copa and Avianca plan to apply in the near term for regulatory approval of the JBA and an accompanying grant of antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other regulatory agencies. The parties do not plan on fully implementing the JBA until they receive the necessary government approvals. The JBA currently includes cooperation between the U.S. and Central and South America, excluding Brazil. With the recently concluded Open Skies agreement between the U.S. and Brazil, the carriers are exploring the possibility of adding Brazil to the JBA.