Unwrapped: LATAM’s Agreement To Purchase 28 A320 Aircraft

LATAM Airlines Group and Airbus agreed on the purchase of 28 new A320neo family aircraft, the airline reported yesterday. This agreement expands LATAM’s current order for 42 narrowbody airplanes to 70. Let’s investigate further.

LATAM A320neo
LATAM has agreed to buy 28 additional Airbus A320neo aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Consolidates LATAM’s position as the largest airline in the region

This week, LATAM presented before the Court in the United States for approval of the agreement to purchase 28 new aircraft, said the carrier in a statement.

This order adds up to the previous purchase of 42 narrowbody airplanes already agreed upon.

With the signing, the group will strengthen its operations in its subsidiaries at the regional level, said LATAM. Roberto Alvo, CEO of LATAM Airlines Group, said,

“The purchase of these highly efficient aircraft is a sign of the commitment we have made with the transformation towards a carbon-neutral LATAM in 2050. At the same time, these 70 aircraft reinforce the connectivity scale of the region.”

The new order will allow LATAM to remain as the largest operator in South America. It currently has nearly 300 aircraft, many of them grounded due to travel restrictions across the region.

LATAM A320neo
LATAM had 12 Airbus A320neo aircraft, as of March 31, 2021. Photo: Airbus.

Latin America boom of new orders

Many Latin American airlines have announced orders for new planes across the region in the last few weeks. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still an appetite for new aircraft, as we reported in Simple Flying en Español.

Carriers like Aeroméxico, Volaris, GOL, Azul, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and now LATAM have announced new aircraft orders. Others, like Avianca, have shown plans to increase the seat density in their fleets.

For the next few years, we expect the Latin American carriers to receive up to 708 planes, both new and previously used.

GOL leads the way with an order for 125 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Volaris, in Mexico, still has to receive 94 new Airbus A320 family planes.

Aeroméxico has also increased its order and will receive up to 40 Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft. Aerolíneas Argentinas will renew its long-haul fleet by receiving four Airbus A330-200 aircraft in the next two years.

In this tally, we’re not counting possible orders like the one Azul announced earlier this week. Azul has a commercial deal that would allow it to invest US$1 billion and have a fleet of up to 220 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Boeing B767-316ER LATAM Chile CC-CXG MMMX Mar 5 2021 AF 01
LATAM fleet has been changing a lot in the last year. Here we see a Boeing 767-300 landing in Mexico City; LATAM will convert ten of these airplanes into freighters. Photo: Guillermo Quiroz Martínez via @gquimar.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

How’s the LATAM fleet looking at the moment?

LATAM fleet has changed a lot in the last few months due to the Chapter 11 process the airline is facing.

On December 31, 2019, LATAM’s fleet was composed of 342 aircraft. By March 31, 2021, LATAM has reduced its number of airplanes to 297, as reported in its financial results. Nevertheless, more changes are coming.

LATAM has rejected the leasing contracts of its Airbus A350 fleet, as well as a few Boeing 787 Dreamliners. It has also boosted its freighter fleet by converting up to ten Boeing 767-300ERs into cargo planes.

In terms of narrowbody aircraft, LATAM had 223 at the end of 2021’s first quarter, compared to 245 in 2019. The South American giant has rejected a few leases from its older models like the Airbus A319, and the A320-200.

What do you think of LATAM’s fleet plans? Let us know in the comments.