Latin America’s biggest airline has been created with the takeover of Brazilian carrier TAM by Chile’s LAN Airlines.

The merger, which was first announced in August 2010, means that the newly-named LATAM Airlines Group is valued at $14.5 billion and is set to represent 6% of global air transport.

Through the airlines that comprise it, LATAM “will offer its passengers more flights to more destinations than any other airline group in South America, initially reaching about 150 destinations in 22 countries and transporting cargo to 169 destinations in 27 countries,” the company said.

Chief executive Enrique Cueto said: “The creation of this group of airlines is an opportunity to take South America to the world and to allow us to position ourselves to operate in an increasingly competitive environment due to the continuing consolidation of the global airline industry.

Both LATAM airlines will keep their current headquarters, with LAN in Santiago and TAM in Sao Paulo. The carriers will also continue to operate under their existing brands in the short term.

“This is the beginning of a long journey and the benefits to our customers will be added gradually as the integration of our companies’ progresses,” Cueto said.