With the integration of the 19th B767-300 Boeing converted freighter (BCF) into its fleet, the airline is once again growing its transport capacity. Compared to the pre-corona period in 2019, this is an increase of 70%. Due to this latest addition to its fleet, the carrier cements its role as the largest cargo airline group in South America.
According to the management, cargo operations will concentrate on flights between South and North America during the current peak season and until Valentine’s Day 2024 (14FEB24), thus supporting the export of fruit products and flowers harvested in Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia. However, during the upcoming summer flight schedule starting 31MAR24, the focus will shift towards strengthening long-haul operations from South America to Europe and parts of North America.
B767F is knighted by LATAM Cargo
Regarding its fleet of B767 freighters, the Santiago-based carrier claims that these conversions are “the ideal aircraft for operations in the regions currently served by LATAM Cargo, due to its efficiency, versatility, and transport capacity” and fit the market needs.
The arrival of the 19th freighter reflects LATAM Cargo’s commitment to customers and its focus on maintaining a sustainable, long-term operation. “This growth plan was structured collaboratively, with the aim of connecting the region's export and import industries through a broad and reliable offering. At the same time, we considered the inherent volatility of air cargo and thus focused on efficiency, diversification, and flexibility. While the industry faces challenging times, we are pleased to have access to this new aircraft to take advantage of opportunities in the territory,” comments Gudny Genskowsky, Senior VP of Network and Alliances for Cargo at LATAM.
New passenger flights to London
Further to this, the management revealed to CargoForwarder Global that it will launch new passenger services from Lima to London and back the same way, ending in Santiago de Chile. The route will be served five times per week, with B787-900 aircraft. This Boeing variant can accommodate between 12 and 15 tons of cargo in its holds, depending on passenger luggage. The initial flight is scheduled for 03DEC23. “We will market the capacity of the passenger aircraft ourselves,” states Jorge Carretero, Sales Director Central Europe.
Concerns about Schiphol flights
Touching the European network of the carrier, Jorge said that, for the time being, LATAM Cargo does not intend to add a new EU destination to its routing. Currently, Amsterdam (AMS) and Frankfurt (FRA) are served daily with B767F, supplemented by twice-weekly landings at Brussels (BRU) and Liège (LGG), respectively. All AMS flights take-off to FRA, from where they cross the South Atlantic, serving different stations in South America, such as Sao Paulo or Curitiba, for instance.
The manager confirmed that Schiphol is the carrier’s main European hub due to the flower business and the geographical nearness of the Dutch flower auction, Royal FloraHolland, in Aalsmeer. “Our customers prefer Amsterdam as a location for importing their flower shipments from South America. A reduction in slots would have been detrimental to our route policy and product strategy.” He adds to this, however, that FRA is of equal importance for the airline’s cargo business where other products dominate.
AMS slots cuts are off the table
The manager reacted with relief to the Dutch government's decision not to limit the number of flights for the time being. "This should put this issue off the table for the time being, and with it the need to rethink our routing," he said when asked. Originally, The Hague wanted to reduce the number of slots from 500,000 to 452,000 annually for reasons of noise and environmental protection. Roos Bakker, Cargo Partnership Director Schiphol Airport, reconfirmed these plans to CargoForwarder Global at the recent TIACA meeting in Brussels (06-08NOV23).
Now, however, the Dutch government has made a U-turn following interventions by the USA and the EU Commission. Both claimed that the intent did not meet the „balanced approach” process. It demands from governments to consult affected parties to discuss and identify different solutions to reduce aircraft noise and CO2 emissions prior to intervening in the slot scheme. Hence, LATAM Cargo and other cargo airlines serving AMS can relax for the time being, unless Schiphol imposes a ban on night flights as alternative to slot cuts.
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