Delta Air Lines is starting a new chapter in its relationship with Aeromexico, the oldest and largest airline in Mexico.
In December, the two carriers received antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation for their joint venture, which they now expect to launch on April 1.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said regulatory approvals are all in place, and the carrier is now working on implementing the remedies—primarily slot divestitures—that were required to gain immunity.
With the granting of immunity, Delta also expects its tender offer, which would increase its stake in its Mexican partner, to occur in the second quarter of this year.
In a statement, Bastian said the partnership “will make it possible for us to offer customers more flights to more destinations, with more choices every time someone travels across the border. We will offer industry-leading reliability, great service and an unmatched array of options.”
Aeroméxico chief executive Andrés Conesa noted that the agreement “will mark the beginning of a new era in the aviation of North America, as the first and the largest cross-border alliance between Mexico and the U.S.”
Delta has said it will hire some Mexican nationals to work in Atlanta and will add some of its own employees in Mexico.
Aeromexico “has a substantial domestic marketplace that we'll also be able to get into and help them improve,” Bastian said.
Delta and Aeromexico have a long history together. They launched their first code-share agreement in 1994 and were both founding members of the SkyTeam alliance in 2000.
In 2011, they entered into an enhanced commercial agreement, and in 2012, Delta began investing in shares of Grupo Aeroméxico, the parent company of Aeroméxico.
Delta also has a history of investing in its airline partners. It has acquired 49% of Virgin Atlantic Airways and lesser shares of GOL, the Brazilian low-cost carrier, and of China Eastern.