United Copa Avianca discussing joint venture

United is in talks with Latin American carriers Copa and Avianca about forming a three-way joint venture.

The partnership would cover the carriers’ combined networks between Latin America and the U.S.

Avianca reported the talks in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday and Copa noted the discussions that day in a press release reporting second-quarter earnings.

United provided its own confirmation of the discussions in a statement emailed to Travel Weekly on Friday.

None of the airlines provided additional details about the potential joint venture.

Avianca has hubs in Bogota, Lima and San Salvador and serves 10 U.S. cities. Copa serves 13 U.S. cities and has its hub in Panama City. Both airlines have extensive Latin American networks and are codeshare partners with United.

Avianca, Copa and United are all members of the Star Alliance.

If it comes to fruition, a United/Copa/Avianca joint venture could eventually compete with a joint venture between American and LATAM.

In 2016, American and LATAM announced their intent to seek antitrust immunity to jointly market, schedule and operate flights between the U.S./Canada and South American countries Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The completion of an open skies aviation agreement between the U.S. and Brazil this spring paved the way for the Department of Transportation to review the proposed partnership.

In early 2017, United said that it was in talks with Avianca about forming a strategic partnership. But United didn’t specify whether the partnership would be a joint venture.

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