News broke late last month that Delta Air Lines is buying a stake in South American carrier Latam. American, which is already invested in Latam and which was pursuing a joint venture with the carrier, would get pushed to the side in the transaction.

While the partnership is for the most part still business as usual for American, Latam, and the Oneworld passengers that fly up and down the western hemisphere, many are waiting for the other shoe to drop. For years American and Latam have owned a big part of travel between North and South America. And if Latam starts working with Delta and the SkyTeam alliance, there may be some major loyalty shifts in the works.

Latam, for its part, maintains that it is not joining the Skyteam alliance, but it would also be foolish to show its hand.

Indeed, that may be why Delta was so interested in the carrier. Traditionally, Delta and the SkyTeam alliance have been relatively weak in South America. With Latam in play, however, a whole new world of travelers may open up. Now passengers just need to figure out whether and when to keep their eggs in the Oneworld versus SkyTeam baskets.

News of any alliance transition is still under wraps.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor 

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

American Airlines Pushes Deeper Into Australia With Revamped Qantas Loyalty Partnership: Fresh off of news that its partnership with LATAM is on the rocks, American Airlines is investing heavier in another region: Australia. American and Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, doubled down this week on a loyalty partnership to better reward frequent flyers on both sides of the aisle.

Why Delta Air Lines Covets This Not-So-Profitable Latin American Airline: Delta Air Lines shocked travelers and investors late last month by making a major investment in Latam Airlines, a large but marginally profitable South American carrier.

American Airlines Shuffles Top Executives as Damage Control Begins: On the heels of the announcement from American Airlines that its leadership expects its Boeing 737 Max aircraft to return to service in mid-January 2020, the airline will also shuffle a variety of top executives as a sign to Wall Street that it’s sorting out its myriad operational issues.

Delta Hints at Return to Days of Simpler Fares: Airlines aren’t always the most customer-centric businesses, so any move to make things easier to understand should be welcomed. As usual, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Why Airlines Keep Creating Even More Types of Fares: Many airline executives insist that their so-called New Distribution Capability, or new method of sharing data for selling tickets, will hit a major target next year. But industry insiders say the target will be missed. To cope in the meantime, several airlines will expand the marketing for bundled fares under a confusing array of brand names.

American Airlines Targets January 16 for Boeing 737 Max’s Return to Service: American Airlines has canceled Boeing 737 Max flights for six more weeks, through Jan. 15, but finally is targeting a date for the aircraft’s return, the carrier said Wednesday morning.

EasyJet Takes Advantage of Rival Airlines’ Troubles: EasyJet Plc said earnings for the year through September were toward the top end of its forecasts, helped by strikes at British Airways and Ryanair Holdings Plc.

Air New Zealand Lures Walmart’s Top U.S. Exec Home as Its New Chief: Walmart’s Greg Foran, the architect of the revival of its U.S. stores, is departing to run his native New Zealand’s flag carrier.

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Grant Martin [gm@skift.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is also a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

Photo Credit: Latam's new livery on a B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Delta and the SkyTeam alliance have been historically weak in South America, but there could be some major loyalty shiffs once Delta's deal with Latam is finalized and set in motion. Latam