October 3, 2017 / 1:09 PM / a year ago

LATAM Airlines says Brazil watchdog approves deal with American

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines LTM.SNLFL.N, Latin America’s largest carrier, said on Tuesday that Brazil’s antitrust authority Cade had approved its joint business agreement (JBA) with American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) without restrictions.

FILE PHOTO: LATAM Airlines planes are seen at Santiago International Airport, Chile March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

LATAM said its agreement with American Airlines, and a similar accord with British Airways parent IAG (ICAG.L), had now been approved by authorities in Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil.

The agreement seeks to help the airlines coordinate schedules and prices for flights, and would allow American and IAG to grow in South America by offering more connections and lower fares.

“The approval by Brazil is a major step forward in the process of the implementation of the JBAs of LATAM with American Airlines and IAG,” LATAM said in a statement.

“It ratifies the positive vision that Brazilian authorities have of these kinds of agreement and the connectivity they generate for passengers and for the country.”

However, Chile, which has previously raised competition concerns, has yet to give its approval.

The deal also still requires approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation and that will only happen when an Open Skies treaty between the United States and Brazil goes into effect, according to a source familiar with the situation.

That agreement ending limits on the number of flights between the two countries was signed in 2011 but has not yet been approved by Brazil’s Congress where it is in a list of legislation to be discussed but faces opposition, the source said.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Felipe Iturrieta; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Rosalba O'Brien

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