There are many exciting stories to check out from the airline industry in the Latin American region. From new airports being inaugurated despite controversial matters to airlines exiting bankruptcy processes and startups launching flights, these are the five stories to watch in 2022.
A new airport for Mexico City?
The Mexican government will inaugurate a new airport for Mexico City on March 21, 2022. The military base of Santa Lucía will be officially transformed into the mixed civil/military Felipe Ángeles International Airport (IATA code, NLU).
Only two airlines have announced routes from the new airport. Volaris will launch flights from NLU to Tijuana and Cancun, while Viva Aerobus will fly to Guadalajara and Monterrey. Besides these four connections, Felipe Ángeles doesn’t have more flights scheduled at the moment.
The airport has been in the midst of controversy since 2018 when current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided to cancel the former Texcoco International Airport (when it was at 30% of construction) and opted to retrofit this military base. There are so many doubts regarding if Mexico City’s new airport will work.
Chapter 11 exits
In 2020, three Latin American airlines filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process: Avianca, LATAM, and Aeromexico. On December 1, 2021, Avianca announced it was emerging from its Chapter 11 (the second time it has done it).
This year, Aeromexico and LATAM should exit their Chapter 11 processes. Both airlines are in the final steps of their respective financial reorganizations, although they are facing pressure from creditors.
Unless something goes terribly wrong, Aeromexico and LATAM should close the year in a stronger financial position. The Mexican carrier has even estimated it could go back to profitability in 2022.
In 2021, one airline startup launched operations in Latin America, Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos in Brazil. Nonetheless, it has temporarily ceased operations since December 17, and it doesn’t look good. Many employees have left the troubled company, and Itapemirim has sent at least a couple of aircraft abroad due to “maintenance reasons,” according to local media.
Several airlines startups could launch operations in 2022. The most likely candidates to begin flying are EQUAIR in Ecuador and Ultra Air in Colombia. EQUAIR was supposed to start flying on December 22, but a COVID-19 surge of infections through its personnel forced the airline to push back the launching date. A few other candidates could fly in 2022, like Ecuatoriana Airlines, Flycana, and Nella Regional Airlines.
Argentina’s controversial measures
In the last few months of 2021, the Argentinian government announced a couple of controversial measures which could only help Aerolíneas Argentinas, the state carrier.
The first one was to prohibit international tickets and other tourist services from being financed in installments paid with credit cards. This one may harm every airline in Argentina, though.
On the other hand, the second measure should only benefit Aerolíneas Argentinas. The country announced it will create a system of fare bands with minimum and maximum rates on domestic flights. Low-cost carriers will feel the impact of the measure.
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Latin America’s recovery
There will be plenty of good news throughout Latin America in 2022. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) believes the region could be close to pre-pandemic traffic levels by the end of the year.
ICAO estimates traffic levels in the year will close between 4.9% and 6.8% below 2019 levels. Moreover, the domestic market could grow up to 7.3%. Nonetheless, airlines could still lose between US$5.7 and 6.7 billion in revenues and have net losses of up to US$3.7 billion in 2022.
Some airlines like Volaris, Viva Aerobus, Viva, and Copa Airlines should be profitable throughout 2022.
What stories in the Latin American region are you keeping a close eye on? Let us know in the comments below.