The South American carrier has ambitious fleet and route plans to become the cargo airline of choice for its customers. They go hand in hand with efforts to further reduce its carbon footprint, embark on circular economy measures, and take additional steps to digitalize the cargo business, including door to door services in domestic markets. These and other aims are high on the Santiago, Chile-based capacity provider’s agenda, and were illustrated by LATAM Cargo CEO, Andrés Bianchi, during an exclusive interview with CargoForwarder Global.
More capacity, more routes and cargo flights
The dark days, marked by uncertainty and unclear prospects, will soon be over. Namely in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year, when LATAM will leave Chapter 11. For Andrés Bianchi it is quite clear that the decision of the U.S. court will be positive.
However, this is just one reason for new confidence. The other is the revitalization of the Cargo Division's development strategy, which was decided on shortly before Covid-19 broke out, and was more or less shelved since then. The main point there: The further growth of the freighter fleet and thus of the international network.
Currently, the freight division operates 14 B767-300 freighter aircraft, but will add two more by the end of the year. And that is not the end of the line. Come December 2023, “we will have a uniform B767 freighter fleet consisting of up to 22 units,” states señor Bianchi.
The announcement to further up the capacity through additional B767 pax to freighter conversions, is a strong signal to the market. This increase of main deck capacity will enable LATAM Cargo to operate new routes and/or serve some destinations more frequently. At the top of the list is Madrid (MAD), which was removed from the flight plan when Covid-19 started spreading. Starting now, the new services are Amsterdam (AMS)/ Madrid (MAD)/ New York (JFK)/ Miami (MIA)/ Bogota (BOG), and AMS/JFK/MIA/BOG. In case of imports, goods transit in Miami and are flown on board the LATAM freighter or passenger fleet to the various South American destinations that the carrier serves. For exports, the opposite routing applies. “We practically double our frequencies between The Americas and Europe,” states the executive. He goes on to say that this capacity increase makes the network more attractive and gives customers multiple transport options.
New U.S. destinations targeted
The transatlantic expansion is complemented by the new destinations that LATAM Cargo intends to serve in the U.S., or has already begun serving. This applies to Huntsville, Alabama, operated on behalf of logistics giant, DSV, once a week. “This unique collaboration is a quick turnkey solution, loaded and controlled by DSV Air & Sea with the full commitment and lift by LATAM. Routed in return from Viracopos, through Bogota and Miami – this full-service offer is a game changer for many looking for relief in this market,” reads a DSV release.
JFK and Chicago (ORD) are also new additions to the flight plan. However, ORD is a restart since flights were stopped due to pandemic reasons. However, Mr. Bianchi’s hunger is not yet satisfied: “In addition, we are looking at one or two other U.S. destinations we consider serving,” indicates the executive. He remains tight lipped when asked which ones these are. “We’ll tell you when they have been finally decided.”
CROAMIS will be rolled out domestically
Another main task area the management is permanently focusing on, is to further digitalize its freight business. With the CROAMIS platform, implemented by the Indian company, Wipro, a booking and reservation system has been in place since last year that has proven itself in daily practice, says LATAM Cargo. Following its global introduction, it will soon be activated in domestic markets. The objective of its digitalization efforts is to provide customers with reliable and efficient solutions and a comprehensive set of tools that work best for them. This includes LATAM Cargo's entry into the online marketplaces of providers cargo.one and Webcargo. “These electronic platforms offer customers access to LATAM's cargo capacity in an innovative way,” emphasizes Mr. Bianchi.
As a South American company, LATAM Cargo’s sustainability strategy, named #ANecessaryDestination!, is focused on the region, and based on three pillars: Climate Change, Circular Economy, and Shared Value. South America is a key region as it contains six of the ten richest countries in terms of biodiversity. It also hosts more than 25% of the world’s forests and arable land, and 40% of the species on Earth.
Andrés Bianchi's credo: “It is crazy to destroy old and intact woods first and then reforest devastated landscapes. We need to protect precious natural resources in the first place and give the people living there an economic perspective.” Particularly this objective, the active protection of valuable natural habitats in order to safeguard their existence and that of their dwellers, is certainly shared by many of his colleagues at LATAM Cargo, including the entire air freight industry. More details are available here.
Saving the planet – the most noble and ethical ambition
“We ought to reduce our ecological footprint. And not just of our airline, but of all companies participating in the supply chain,” exclaims the Cargo helmsman. To do so, the freight carrier launched a collaborative program called “Let’s fly neutral” to offset greenhouse gas emissions.
With this scheme, “we have made an important commitment to our partners: to offset all the carbon emissions generated by their shipments. They will only need to offset 50%, as LATAM Cargo will offset the remaining 50%. In this way, we neutralize the total amount blown into the atmosphere.”
All environmental measures are based on the conviction that it is time to quit the traditional linear business model and move towards a circular economy. It is a broad, ecological approach, measuring singular decisions by the resulting benefits for the entire society. Activities include upping the recycling rate of mainly plastic packaging materials in cooperation with airports and handling agents, the repair of pallets for reuse, and efforts to maximize the collection and disposal procedures to reduce waste wherever possible.
For more than ten years, relief flights in the case of floods, earthquakes, or other natural catastrophes, have been part of LATAM Cargo's repertoire. Now a broader approach has been created; in addition to rescue missions, the scheme includes health issues and activities to protect the environment.
LATAM Airlines CEO, Roberto Alvo, illustrates the approach, mentioning the recent flooding in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. In close coordination with NGOs and the Ministry of Tourism “we have supplied food and personal hygiene products to affected communities. In addition, we transported 8 veterinarians to help animals that have suffered for the same reason.”
The executive went on to say: “At LATAM, we see it as our responsibility to contribute to the societies in which we participate, beyond our role of transporting and connecting. We are part of South America, and, with a lot of passion, we contribute to take care of the environment where we come from. We want to have a positive impact on our region”
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