LATAM holds up domestically but slashes international capacity

March 13, 2020
latam slashes capacity
Photo: Latam

Traffic in the LATAM Group’s Latin American home markets is so far holding up under the COVID-19 pandemic but lower demand and government travel restrictions are forcing it to slash international capacity by 30 percent.

The airline said Friday the cuts would apply principally to flights from South America to Europe and the US between April 1 and May 30.

Several Latin countries have stepped up travel bans to and from Europe.

READ: Trump’s COVID-19 travel ban could see more airlines fail.

“Faced with this complex and extraordinarily dynamic scenario, LATAM is taking immediate and responsible measures to safeguard the group’s long-term sustainability, while seeking to secure passengers’ travel plans and protect the jobs of the group’s 43,000 workers,’’ group chief executive-elect Roberto Alvo said.

“At the same time, we will maintain the flexibility to take additional measures, if necessary, due to the speed at which events are unfolding.”

Like many airlines, LATAM has upgraded its safety and hygiene protocols to introduce special cleaning procedures,

It said that its domestic markets have so far been unaffected by the virus and the group had decided not to implement changes at this stage.

“We will continue to monitor the progress of the COVID-19 coronavirus, promoting the sanitary measures recommended by respective authorities and providing passengers with flexibility and the best connectivity to reach their destinations,” Alvo said.

US carriers are also reconsidering their services to Latin America.

In its latest round of schedule changes, American Airlines said it was suspending services from Miami, New York JFK, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles to Buenos Aires.

It was also suspending flights from Dallas-Fort Worth and LAX to Sao Paulo and from DFW to Santiago.

American is also reducing its trans-Atlantic capacity by 50 percent in April and its summer season international capacity by 34 percent compared to last summer.

The European schedule, a result of US President Donald Trump’s European travel ban, sees flights suspended from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina.

There will also be reduced service to London Heathrow from New York JFK, Dallas-Forth Worth and Chicago as well as a delayed start to some seasonal routes.

It will continue operating flights from JFK, DFW and Miami to Barcelona, Madrid and Paris for up to seven days before suspending them.

It hopes the trans-Atlantic flights will resume as early as May 7.