September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
The aviation sector in Latin America will continue to grow next year, according to a senior industry figure from the region.
Franciso Vidal, director of LAN Chile’s operations in Europe and the Middle East, also predicted his airline would report “record results” at the end of its current financial year.
Speaking to ABTN at World Travel Market in London, Vidal said Latin America was not majorly affected by the global recession over the last two years.
Indeed, monthly passenger figures published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have consistently shown the region to be one of the fastest growing in the world.
“Airline traffic has been growing steadily over the past few years,” he said.
“There is a group of airlines that has increased their [level of] service. Brand new aircraft are coming in,” he said.
“You can see a wealthy industry right now in South America. That’s good for everybody.”
As a sign of its health, LAN has some 100 new planes on order, including 12 of the much-anticipated Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The airline was supposed to take delivery of its first Dreamliner this year, and had planned to fly it on the Santiago-Madrid-Frankfurt service.
But the state-of-the-art aircraft is three years behind schedule, and this week LAN found out there is potential for even further delays.
Boeing announced it was grounding all test flights after a fire broke out onboard an aircraft over Texas.
If and when the Dreamliner is finally ready, LAN will take delivery of its order after Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA).
Vidal said the demise of Mexicana Airlines – a partner carrier in the Oneworld alliance – in September was a set-back as it had provided valuable onward connections to LAN’s customers.
However, he said LAN had added capacity on routes vacated by the bankrupt Mexican carrier.
The Chilean carrier, which also operates out of Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, is also entrenched in major merger and acquisition activity.
It is in the process of buying Colombian airline Aires, while forging a business partnership with Brasilian Star Alliance carrier TAM.
Vidal admitted the tie-up would not equate to a full merger, owing to foreign ownership laws in Brasil, but said the companies would press ahead with an association under a newly formed parent company, LATAM.
Vidal said the airlines hoped to receive approval from the European Commission and the US Department of Transportation before the end of the year.
The airlines will continue to operate under their own brands, but the partnership is likely to trigger an alliance struggle as Star and Oneworld fight to keep key regional members.