LATAM Airlines Group is starting 2021, deploying 40% of its capacity compared to January 2020, the airline stated in a press release. The South American giant, which currently is in Chapter 11 reorganization, expects to fly to 112 destinations this month.
LATAM’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis has been slower than other South American carriers. Due to its predominantly international route map, the airline has been unable to compete with other operators, mainly low-cost carriers.
For instance, LATAM will deploy a 63% domestic capacity (compared to January 2020) in Brazil, while GOL Linhas Aereas is operating at a 65% capacity and Azul at over 80%. In order to return to healthier levels in the Brazilian domestic market, LATAM recently signed a codeshare agreement with Azul.
In January, LATAM Brazil will deploy a 24% international capacity. It will operate 85 domestic routes (adding up to 406 daily flights) and 15 international routes. The Brazilian carrier has restored three domestic routes: Brasilia-Porto Seguro, Sao Paulo/Congonhas-Foz do Iguazu and Sao Paulo/Congonhas-Ilhéus. Additionally, it restored two international routes: Sao Paulo/Guarulhos-Bogotá and Rio de Janeiro/Galeao-Santiago de Chile.
How’s LATAM doing in the rest of South America
Besides Brazil, LATAM currently operates from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. In 2020, it ceased operations in Argentina due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Currently, the best recovery (by percentage) is in Colombia. In January, it expects to operate a total capacity of 64% in this market. It will deploy a 67% domestic capacity and a 61% international. LATAM Colombia will operate 23 domestic routes (100 daily flights), and five international. The airline is launching six domestic routes: Cali-Medellin; San Andrés-Medellín; Bogotá-Valledupar; Cali-Santa Marta; Cali-Barranquilla, and Medellín-Montería.
In Chile, LATAM will operate at a 30% capacity (35% domestic and 27% international). LATAM will operate 15 domestic routes (92 daily flights) and 14 international routes. Additionally, it will launch two new domestic routes (Santiago-Valdivia and Antofagasta-Concepción) and one international (Santiago-Rio de Janeiro/Galeao).
In Ecuador, LATAM will operate at a 30% capacity (50% domestic and 22% international, compared to January 2020). The airline has six domestic routes (17 daily flights) and three international.
Finally, in Peru, it will operate at a 38% capacity. Domestically, it will deploy a 57% capacity and internationally a 31%. In January, LATAM Peru will fly on 18 domestic routes (104 daily operations) and 17 international routes.
How’s LATAM Airline Group doing financially?
The airline still has to publish its 4Q results. In 2020’s 3Q, LATAM got approval for its DIP Financing in the US of $2.45 billion. On October 8, it made its first draw for $1.15 billion, half of the available funds on that date. Total revenues in the third quarter of 2020 amounted to $519.9 million, a decrease of 80.8% from the same period in 2019. This quarter, LATAM saw a 94.8% decline in passenger revenues and an 85.8% decrease in capacity.
It was in the third quarter when LATAM Airlines Group started to fly again, after months of being grounded across South America. It closed the second quarter operating 6.6% of 2019’s capacity. In July, it increased to 9.2%, 13.9% in August, and 20.0% in September.
Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.