How Much Will The Commercial Latin American Fleet Reduce?

Due to coronavirus, many airlines in the Latin American region will reduce their fleets in the coming months. Just yesterday, Volaris CEO, Enrique Beltranena, said that Mexico could lose up to 75 airplanes. What will the results be in other countries? 

Avianca Getty
Some Latin American airlines will return a few of their airplanes due to the crisis. Photo: Getty Images

Which airplanes are confirmed?

Airlines in Latin America have been more reluctant to announce the retirement of some of their airplanes. Traditionally, Latin American companies, in general, keep things tight to the chest. Nevertheless, there is some light we can shed on imminent aircraft retirements. 

For example, in Mexico, Grupo Aeroméxico announced the return of six airplanes back in the first quarter. The carrier returned four Boeing 737-800 and two B737-700.

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Interjet is another airline that has lost many airplanes in the last few months. While the leasing companies have repossessed 61 out of 66 Airbus aircraft, only a few of them have new registrations, meaning that they will not return to the Mexican low-cost. Eight airplanes, six A320, and two A320neo, already have new registrations. The 53 remaining airplanes may not return to Interjet, although the company says otherwise.

In South America, Avianca announced it would get rid of 14 aircraft. But in 2019, Avianca also sold 10 Airbus A318, four A320, and 10 Embraer E190. 

In Ecuador, TAME was a State airline that recently got liquidated. Before the pandemic, the carrier had a fleet of seven aircraft, including three ATR 42/72, one A319, one A320, and two Embraer ERJ-190. 

Aeroméxico B737 NG y Aeroméxico Connect Embraer
Aeromexico could return 25 airplanes this year. Photo: Daniel Martínez Garbuno/Simple Flying

Which other airlines may reduce their fleets?

LATAM Airlines Group is expected to reduce the size of its fleet. Although we currently don’t know precisely how many airplanes the company will retire, it is a fact that we won’t see the 320 planes it had before the pandemic coming back. The carrier received the flexibility to return up to 111 leased aircraft.

Additionally, four carriers in South America have Boeing 737 MAX in their fleets. Why is this important? Because these carriers were renovating their fleets when the pandemic struck. They could ramp up the retirements while deferring the new orders coming in. Aeromexico is one of them. The Mexican carrier filed a motion to return up to 19 airplanes, including some Boeing 737 NG. It has an order for 60 MAX.

GOL Linhas Aereas in Brazil also has a MAX fleet. Back in April, it was reported that the Brazilian carrier could reduce its fleet from 130 Boeing 737 to 100. GOL could let some lease contracts expire as a way to cut its fleet size. It has an order for 101 MAX.

Copa Airlines also has several MAX in its fleet. Recently, its CEO did say that after the crisis, Copa would resemble more like it was back in 1992 than what it was in 2019. Additionally, the carrier plans to retire its fleet of 14 B737-700. It has an order for 61 MAX.

Finally, Aerolíneas Argentinas also has a Boeing 737 MAX order. Of the four MAX operators, Aerolíneas has the smallest fleet. Even so, the Argentinian State may very well return a few B737 NG shortly. It has an order for 11 MAX.

Copa Airlines Getty
Copa Airlines said it will get rid of 14 B737-700. Photo: Getty Images

What’s the final score?

Let’s make a final tally to see how the coronavirus will affect the fleet sizes across Latin America. This number may very well change as some airlines may not reduce that much, and some others may disappear or return some aircraft. From north to south:

  1. Aeroméxico: The Mexican carrier might return up to 25 aircraft in 2020.
  2. Interjet: The low-cost carrier might end up without 66 Airbus aircraft. 
  3. LIAT: The Caribbean carrier had a fleet of 10 ATR 42/72 when Antigua and Barbuda announced the cease of operations. 
  4. Copa: It will get rid of 14 B737-700 NG.
  5. Avianca: It might return up to 38 airplanes
  6. TAME Ecuador: After its disappearance, its fleet of seven aircraft will stop flying in the country.
  7. LATAM Airlines Group: The company might return up to 111 aircraft, although that seems unlikely. 
  8. GOL Linhas Aereas: The Brazilian carrier might let 30 leasing contracts expire. 

The final tally is, at least 301 airplanes may never return to the Latin American skies. What other airlines may return planes due to the current crisis? Let us know in the comments.