Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Latin American big four airlines (LATAM Airlines Group, Avianca, Grupo Aeromexico, and Copa Airlines), have retired and rejected leases of 130 aircraft so far. Nevertheless, we expect more goodbyes, mainly from the three carriers currently under Chapter 11 bankruptcy processes. Let’s investigate further.
LATAM Airlines’ losses
LATAM Airlines Group is the largest airline company in Latin America. It has domestic branches in Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Earlier this year, it finalized the 15-year history of LATAM Argentina.
Currently, the Group is under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it’s heavily downsizing its fleet to better cope with the pandemic’s impact. Last week, LATAM gained headlines after announcing the lease rejection of its Airbus A350XWB fleet.
In the last few months, LATAM reduced its fleet by 53 aircraft, including 13 Airbus A350 planes. At the end of 2019, the airline had 342 airplanes. Its fleet was composed of 46 A319-100, 137 A320-200, 13 A320neo, 49 A321-200, eight A350-900, 31 B767-300, ten B777-300ER, ten B787-8, and 16 B787-9. Plus, it also had 11 Boeing 767-300F and subleased 11 more planes.
Now, the airline has 289 airplanes, including four subleases and the same eleven cargo aircraft.
LATAM’s commercial fleet has 44 Airbus A319, 132 A320-200, 12 A320neo, 38 A321-200, zero A350, 17 B767-300, ten B777-300ER, ten B787-8, and 12 B787-9.
Copa Airlines’ losses
The Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines has the second largest number of fleet rejections in Latin America during the last year. Despite not being under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Copa has reduced its fleet more than Aeromexico or Avianca.
By the end of 2019, Copa Airlines had a total fleet of 102 aircraft. It had 14 Embraer E-190, 14 B737-700, 68 B737-800, and six B737 MAX-9. Now it has 75.
In 2020, Copa Airlines rejected the leases of all its Embraer aircraft. The planes ended up with the Australian carrier Alliance Airlines. Plus, Copa also said goodbye to all its Boeing 737-700 planes, focusing on the younger 737-800 and MAX units.
Nevertheless, it seems like Copa’s fleet number won’t change much during the next few years. The airline won’t downsize it more, as it still plans to receive several new MAX units. In 2021, Copa intends to increase its MAX fleet by six.
Similar to LATAM, Aeromexico is currently in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. So far, the Mexican carrier has rejected the leasing contracts of 25 airplanes but plans to add a few more.
At the end of 2019, Aeromexico had 130 planes. Its fleet was composed of 19 B787, 11 B737-700, 39 B737-800, five B737 MAX-8, nine Embraer E170, and 47 E190.
By March 2021, the airline has 105 units. It has rejected the leasing contracts of one Dreamliner, six B737-700 nine B737-800, and the nine E170.
Aeromexico could further reduce the size of its fleet. Last year there were talks that Aeromexico could end up with a fleet between 80 and 90 planes after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. Therefore, we could expect to see out all the 737-700, and maybe a few more Dreamliners and Embraers.
Finally, Avianca has also heavily downsized its fleet in the last year. The Colombian company went from having 171 planes in 2019 to 146 in 2020.
Pre-pandemic, Avianca had 27 A319, 57 A320, ten A320neo, 13 A321, two A321neo, ten A330, six A330F, five A300F, 13 B787-8, one B787-9, 15 ATR-72, two B767F, and ten Embraer E190.
In 2020, the airline had a few Sale and Lease Back operations, but it mainly rejected narrowbodies leasing contracts.
Avianca reduced its A319 fleet by two. It also rejected two A320 contracts, two A321, three A330, two A300F, four ATR-72, and all its Embraer E190 fleet.
Do you expect to see more airplanes flying out of these carriers? Let us know in the comments.