South America Begins To Feel Coronavirus As LATAM Cuts 90% Of Flights

LATAM Airlines Group is canceling 90% of its international flights due to the coronavirus pandemic. This decision was made “following border closures that have made operating to a large part of our network impossible,” according to Roberto Alvo, CEO-elect of LATAM. In general, South America is also starting to feel the impact of coronavirus.

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LATAM is cutting up to 90% of its international flights. Photo: Getty Images.

Latin America is closing, fast

Over the last week and a half, the Latin American region has been closing its borders. El Salvador was one of the first countries worldwide to emphasize that no foreign people would be allowed into its territory. Then, other countries swiftly followed.

The last one, until now, is Argentina. From 17 to 25 March, this country will stop all commercial flights, including domestic flights. Aerolíneas Argentinas has yet to publish a statement regarding this development.

Chile, LATAM’s main hub, hasn’t closed its borders. Still, the airline announced last week reductions in its routes from South America to Europe and the US, due to the pandemic. This meant a reduction of a third of its total operations.

Yesterday, LATAM reduced its operations by 70%. This is because of a capacity drop of 90% for international flights and 40% for domestic routes, as stated by Airways Magazine.

Alvo also said that if the travel restrictions are extended, LATAM Airlines Group “cannot rule out further reductions to our operation”. This indeed will happen as Argentina closed its border and the Group has a domestic airline in this country.

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Argentina is the latest country in closing its borders. Photo: Getty Images.

Aeroméxico and Interjet cut their capacity by 40%

Currently, Mexico remains one of the countries with open borders. Even with that, Aeromexico and Interjet announced a cut of 40% in their respective capacities.

Travel restrictions in South America are the biggest threat to Interjet. Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, and Ecuador are four major destinations for the Mexican low-cost carrier. And the governments of the four countries closed their borders for international travelers.

Interjet’s CEO said,

“This is a responsible approach due to the current state of affairs that the air industry is facing. We are trying to protect the health of our passengers, crews, and employees.”

Aeromexico’s CEO, Andres Conesa, sent a letter to the employees. He stated that the airline will reduce by 40% its international operations. The airline slashed 20 weekly flights from Mexico to Europe. The economic impact in Latin America remains to be seen, as governments continue to halt the traffic in the region.

Finally, Aeromexico’s biggest enemy of 2019, Emirates, suspended for a month its route to Mexico City. The carrier made this decision due to the stop of its operations in Spain.

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Aeromexico also cut 40% of its international capacity. Photo: Daniel Martínez Garbuno

What about Avianca, GOL, and Azul?

In Latin America, coronavirus will hit Avianca the hardest. The carrier has three main hubs in Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru.

Peru stopped all flights, both domestic and international, and borders are closed since today’s midnight. Colombian government banned all foreign travelers until May 30. Also, national, legal residents, and diplomats will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. El Salvador limited free movement in the country and banned any person who is not a resident in the country.

Brazil, on the other hand, has been more benign. The Ministry of Health of this country recommends that any international traveler should stay in isolation for seven days, even without symptoms.

With this in mind, local Brazilian carriers like GOL have scratched a few routes like Sao Paulo-Asunción. Meanwhile, Azul reduced its operations by 30%.

Are you in Latin America? How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your daily life? Let us know in the comments.