LATAM Has Flown 240 Million Masks From China To Brazil

LATAM Airlines Group operated 39 flights between China and Brazil and brought over 240 million masks to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The South American carrier said that this was an unprecedented mega-operation and that all the masks it brought would be enough to fill five Olympic swimming pools.

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LATAM has transported over 240 million tons of N95 masks between Brazil and China. Photo: Getty Images

How did LATAM Cargo do it?

The Ministry of Infrastructure of Brazil hired LATAM Cargo to operate these flights. The operation began in May, according to the airline. During this time, LATAM was responsible for transporting 240 million N95 surgical masks into Brazil, coming from Guangzhou, China.

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The last flight, which happened on 19 July, arrived at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport at 21:46, carrying 3.7 million N95 masks.

For these missions, LATAM used five Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, refurbished for the task. The carrier adapted the cabins so they could carry 5,880 boxes, it said in a statement.

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The number of hours flown is equivalent to 106 days in the air. Photo: LATAM Cargo

An unprecedented operation

While LATAM Airlines goes through its Chapter 11 filing, the cargo division has been very busy. More than 300 LATAM employees were responsible for the 39 flights between China and Brazil.

Over the last three months, LATAM transported 1,200 tons of goods, which were put into 146,661 boxes. This amount was enough to fill five Olympic swimming pools, said LATAM.

Additionally, the five Boeing 777 flew around 1.9 million kilometers in about 2,550 flight hours.

“Hundreds of professionals saw this unprecedented operation as a true mission for the country (…). The efforts made by the teams involved in this mega-operation contribute to supplying Brazil in order to fight the pandemic. These 240 million masks will benefit health professionals all over the country,” stated Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, Infrastructure Minister.

LATAM Cargo landed in quite a few spots to make these trips. According to the company, some of the destinations used as stopovers include Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen (China), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Auckland (New Zealand), Santiago (Chile), and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Finally, Diogo Elias, LATAM Cargo Brazil’s Director, praised the operation done by his team. “We implemented all our logistics expertise to combat this pandemic and reinvent our operation in a very short period,” he said.

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At least four of the biggest airlines in Latin America have made cargo-only flights to China during the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

China is the primary medical supplier for Latin America

Several Latin American carriers have made cargo flights from China during the current pandemic. For example, last week, Aeromexico completed its 200th COVID cargo flight. Most of these flights were between China and Mexico and helped the Mexican carrier bring over 3,000 tons of essential cargo.

Avianca also has had a few trips to China. At the end of April, the Colombian carrier operated its second-ever China flight and delivered over 28 tons of general cargo. The first-ever Avianca flight to China was back in 1956 when it was transporting the Colombian sports delegation to the Melbourne Olympics.

Aerolíneas Argentinas also flew to China for the first time in April. The Argentinian carrier operated this flight with an A330 that had a stopover in Auckland, New Zealand. On its way back, the Airbus plane brought back 13 tons of medical supplies. Since then, Aerolíneas has constantly been flying to China.

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