Oneworld already has the biggest alliance presence in Latin America, bolstered by American's strong Miami hub as well as by LAN's network. Over 60% of all international travel from Latin America is to four cities -- Miami, the most popular, New York, London and Madrid. Oneworld members operate hubs in all four.
LAN merged with Sao Paulo-based TAM in 2012. TAM had been in Star, but Chilean regulators required it to leave. "Hopefully they will roll into Oneworld," Ashby said. "We think we have the best proposition for them, and the merger makes Oneworld even more attractive."
As for Asia service, US Airways briefly considered non-stop Philadelphia-Tokyo service in 1998. Also, regulators awarded US Airways route authority to fly Philadelphia-Beijing in 2007 but US Airways returned it in 2009, citing high fuel prices and the lack of a suitable aircraft. Japan Airlines' U.S. destinations include Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The Boston service will have more feed once the merger occurs, Ashby said, adding that JAL "may conclude, looking down the East Coast, that Philadelphia and Charlotte also present opportunities."
Ashby said he does not know the timing of US Airways' move from Star to Oneworld. The best precedent is that Continental announced its intention to leave Skyteam for Star in June 2008. Sixteen months later, in October 2009, the move was completed.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte.
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