Cargo helped LATAM to navigate the crisis

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Roberto Alvo, the chief executive officer of LATAM Airlines, said cargo has been the cornerstone in the pandemic and helped LATAM a lot to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

“So as we think about cargo going forward, which has been, by the way, a cornerstone in these last months for LATAM. It is definitely a business that has been very, very healthy and has helped us a lot navigating this crisis,” Alvo told Peter Cerda, regional vice president for the Americas at The International Air Transport Association (IATA), during CAPA Live, the Centre for Aviation’s virtual summit.

Alvo reiterated how integral is cargo to LATAM. “As we go forward, the DNA of LATAM has always been to combine cargo with passengers. We believe that has been really good for the company. And we intend to enhance that internal cooperation and make sure that we can provide for our cargo customers the best network within the region and also fly abroad.”

Alvo was promoted to his current role in April 2020 right in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis as global aviation began to experience the worst ever crisis in its history.

Recently, LATAM announced a significant expansion of its cargo operations with the conversion of up to eight of its Boeing 767-300ER passenger aircraft into freighters under the Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF) programme in the next three years.

At the CAPA Live virtual summit, Alvo said that the best airplane for the Latin American region is a 767.

“At some point in time, we had a mixed fleet with 777s and 767s. I think that we became convinced that for the region, the best airplane is a 767. We see important opportunities of growth. We are, by far, the most important carrier of cargo from and to the region. We were able to keep, during this pandemic, fortunately, the countries connected on air freight.”

LATAM has been operating around 15 percent more of its freighters. It also used a lot of its passenger airplanes as passenger freighters to keep the economies connected.

“We took the decision of growing because we believe that the region has the potential for it. We can complement our already best product offering by making sure that we can provide, particularly the flower growers in Ecuador and in Columbia with better opportunities and more capacity,” Alvo added.

In March, LATAM plans to operate more than 1,100 freighter flights which is 13 percent higher than the same month in 2019. The cargo load factor for the month of February was 65.6 percent, 7.7 percent higher than the corresponding month in 2019.

For the fourth quarter of 2020 ended as on December 31, cargo revenues increased by 26.7 percent, reaching $354.8 million. This is despite the decline in cargo capacity. Cargo capacity and traffic decreased 24.1 percent and 10 percent respectively, resulting in a 10.5 percent increase in the cargo load factor. LATAM’s freighter operations increased by 21 percent because of the robust demand for cargo services during the pandemic. Cargo yield grew 40.8 percent year-over-year. As a result, revenues per ATK increased by 67 percent in comparison to the same quarter of the previous year.

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