LAN/TAM merged group could double fleet in decade
SANTIAGO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The Latin American airline colossus to be formed via Chilean carrier LAN's takeover of Brazil's TAM could boost its fleet to as many as 500 aircraft within a decade, a top executive said in an interview published on Sunday. Mauricio Amaro, who is currently vice president of TAM and is set to become chairman of the LATAM Group that LAN and TAM's tie-up will form, also told Chilean newspaper El Mercurio he hoped the group could be flying to Asia within 10 years. "It's difficult to say how many planes (we will have in 10 years), but it is feasible to double our fleet within that time frame to some 450 to 500 aircraft," Amaro said. "We could certainly also be flying to Asia by then, which today is not feasible."LAN and TAM said last month they had started to define the corporate structure of the group they will merge to create one of the world's largest airlines.. They hope that will be complete by the end of the first quarter of next year. In Brazil, the multibillion-dollar deal to create the new LATAM Airlines Group has already cleared two of three anti-monopoly hurdles and remains subject to approval from antitrust council Cade. Chile's antitrust tribunal TDLC approved the transaction in September, clearing a major hurdle, but imposed 11 conditions, three of which LAN has appealed to the Supreme Court.