Chicago-based United Airlines, Colombia’s Avianca and Panamanian flag carrier Copa Airlines may form a three-way joint business agreement, according to statements released by the two Latin American airlines’ holding companies Aug. 8.

Both Copa Holdings and Avianca Holdings said their respective companies have “been in discussions with United Airlines … regarding the possibility of establishing a three-way joint business agreement that would cover the combined networks between the United States and Latin America.”

In a statement emailed to ATW, United confirmed it has been in discussions with Copa and Avianca “regarding the possibility of a joint business agreement that would enhance our joint networks between the United States and Latin America, increase travel options for our customers, and improve the customer experience for travelers.” United added it had no other information or updates to share at this time.

Copa and Avianca each emphasized “at this point, we can provide no assurances as to whether or when the parties will finalize the agreement.”

Copa’s announcement of the negotiations came in an early release of the company’s second-quarter financial results. Avianca’s announcement was via an SEC filing statement.

All three carriers are Star Alliance members. Copa and Avianca are both codeshare partners with United, and with each other as well.

Earlier this year, Avianca and United revealed they had been engaged in negotiations to “deepen the companies’ commercial and strategic relations,” according to a Feb. 1 statement by United president Scott Kirby. Details about the nature of the relationship, and what form it would take, were not released. United did indicate at the time that it was also in talks with Avianca Brasil.

Avianca Colombia and Avianca Brasil remain in a prolonged merger effort, a process that Avianca Brasil CEO Jose Efromovich told ATW in June is hoping will be completed this year. “But I cannot predict,” Efromovich said, ““We have a list of priorities … the joint venture (JV) with United Airlines should come first. And JVs demand a lot of work.”

Both companies are controlled by the same shareholder, Synergy Aerospace, which owns 100% of Avianca Brasil and about 70% of Avianca Colombia.

Mark Nensel