Latam deploys more cargo planes in Europe

Latam Airlines will significantly increase its cargo capacity from Europe to the United States and South America with additional cargo flights and routes in the second half of the year, the Santiago, Chile-based airline group announced on Tuesday. The deployment of the aircraft is expected to facilitate the transport of pharmaceuticals, spare parts for vehicles, perishable fruits, seafood and other basic products.

Latam Cargo, which currently operates 14 Boeing 767 all-cargo planes, said weekly frequencies would nearly double from seven to 13. Before the pandemic, Latam operated about five flights a week to Europe. The company will also open three new freight routes from Amsterdam which will operate twice a week.

New additions to the freighter fleet, along with new digital booking options such as WebCargo, have enabled the expansion of the European network, which will be rolled out gradually over the coming months, LATAM officials said.

Latam’s move provides shippers with more consistent airfare choices and could further reduce freight rates as the market absorbs an influx of capacity this summer. After lagging other regions for the rest of the pandemic, air cargo demand in Latin America has outpaced much of this year as governments eased COVID restrictions and airlines reintroduced cargo services. suspended passengers. Latin American carriers reported a 13.8% increase in cargo volumes in May. Year-to-date freight throughput is up 22%, supported by a one-third increase in passenger and freight capacity, while all regions except Africa, experienced negative growth compared to last year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Latin America accounts for only 2.2% of the global freight volume market share.

The North Atlantic Trade Corridor has seen a major influx of cargo capacity as passenger airlines reintroduce long-haul and widebody services for the busy summer season. The extra supply has deflated shipping rates and led some cargo operators to move all-cargo planes to other regions, such as Asia, where rates are holding up more. Latam’s assets will offset some of these freighter no-shows and benefit freighter owners who want schedule certainty or the extra space available with a dedicated freighter aircraft.

Latin American airlines showed confidence in continuing to grow cargo business by introducing new services and investing in additional cargo aircraft.

Latam Cargo is in the process of sending up to 10 of the company’s 767 passenger planes to Boeing to convert to main deck freighters. It plans to add two more planes to the fleet, for a total of 16, by the end of the year. The company is expected to receive a Boeing factory-built 767 freighter in September. If all options are exercised, Latam Cargo could have a fleet of 22 medium jumbo freighters by the end of 2023.

The new freight routes introduced by LATAM are:

  • Amsterdam-New York (JFK)/Miami-Bogota, Colombia
  • Amsterdam-New York/Miami-Sao Paulo-Bogota
  • Amsterdam-Madrid-New York/Miami-Bogota

Flights will alternate stops between New York and Miami. Connectivity to other cities is available from New York on Latam’s passenger network and to its cargo hub in Miami via cargo and passenger services. Latam said it would increase its service between Sao Paulo and Miami to nine times a week to ensure there is adequate capacity to handle European traffic.

A U.S. bankruptcy court approved Latam’s restructuring plan last month, opening the door for the company to emerge from the bankruptcy process later this year. After certain financial and security requirements are met, the plan will inject $8 billion into the company, including $5.4 billion in funding from major shareholders Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), Qatar Airways and Grupo Cueto.

In May, Latam began operating a weekly cargo flight from Huntsville, Alabama, to Sao Paulo on lease with logistics service provider DSV.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

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Mary I. Bruner