Changing Dynamics: Airbus’ Widebodies Start Losing Out In Latin America

Airbus has been losing the Latin American widebody market in the last few months, but it is holding firm to its narrowbody share in the region. According to Arturo Barreira, President at Airbus Latin American and the Caribbean, the company has nearly 60% of the region’s fleet and 71% of the backlog.

Some Latin American airlines like LATAM and Avianca have been ditching their Airbus widebody fleets. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Why is Airbus losing the widebody market?

The Latin American airlines don’t have that many widebodies. Only a few carriers like LATAM, Aeromexico, Azul, and Avianca have significant long-haul fleets. So far, the region hasn’t required these types of airplanes since the trips per capita are still underdeveloped.

According to ch-aviation’s database, there are 93 long-haul widebody aircraft operating with 17 carriers in the Latin American region. Of this total, 71 are currently active.

During the Latin American and the Caribbean Airlines (ALTA) annual meeting, Airbus disclosed a list of all the airlines operating its planes in the region. According to Airbus, there are 28 active widebodies with six airlines. These are Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca, Avior, Azul Linhas Aereas, Conviasa, and MasAir.
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Nevertheless, a few months ago, Airbus had a widebody fleet of 42 aircraft in Latin America. It reduced following LATAM’s decision to reject the leasing contracts of its A350 aircraft. And it is set to reduce even further, following Avianca’s call to focus its long-haul fleet on the Boeing 787.

Arturo Barreira explained,

“We have an exceptional widebody offer. The thing with Avianca is that it had the A330 and the B787, and the latter was the newest. The A330 is one heck of a plane, and Avianca is going to keep the A330s as freighters. The A330neo can compete perfectly with the 787. Azul is actually increasing its 330neo fleet. We have a small widebody market in Latin America, and each client is extremely important.”

Avianca 787
Avianca’s focus on the long-haul market is with its 787 fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Airbus’ stronghold

Despite losing the widebody market in Latin America to Boeing, Airbus is still the largest OEM in the region. The European manufacturer has a stronghold on the narrowbody market.

Typically, the low-cost carriers in Latin America operate with the Airbus A320 family, while the traditional, legacy airlines have Boeing 737 fleets. For instance, Volaris, Viva Aerobus, Viva Colombia, JetSMART, Sky, and even the new startups Itapemirim and Ultra Air have Airbus fleets. On the other hand, Aeromexico, GOL, Copa Airlines, and Aerolíneas Argentinas have Boeing fleets.

Crucially, though, Airbus has been able to win two critical clients in the Latin American narrowbody market, Avianca and LATAM. Currently, Avianca has, and 96 LATAM has 237 Airbus single-aisle aircraft.

The low-cost carriers in Latin America often use the Airbus A320 family. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Airbus orders in Latin America

Additionally to Airbus having 58% of the current Latin American fleet, the OEM has 71% of the backlog. It still has to deliver up to 500 aircraft in the region, said Barreira.

For example, since LATAM’s merger, the company has ordered 585 A320 family aircraft. Likewise, Avianca has a substantial Airbus order ready to be delivered after 2024. Between 2025 and 2029, Avianca will receive 88 new planes, according to its Chapter 11 plan.

Finally, the low-cost carriers in the region will take delivery of many Airbus narrowbodies in the coming years. Volaris has the largest order among its peers; Sky Airline and JetSMART will eventually become Latin America’s first A321XLR customers, and the Viva airlines also have an exciting delivery outlook for the next few years.

What do you think Airbus should do to increase its widebody market share in Latin America? Let us know in the comments below.