July Is LATAM’s Best Post-COVID Month But It Has A Long Way To Go

In July, LATAM is enjoying the highest levels of operation since the beginning of the pandemic, with a 46% recovery, compared to its pre-pandemic numbers. However, it is far from a full comeback. Where has it recovered the swiftest?

LATAM Airbus A320 Getty
LATAM is still deeply impacted by travel restrictions in South America. Photo: Getty Images

During this month, LATAM estimates it will operate approximately 880 domestic and international daily flights. It will connect 116 destinations in 16 countries. Meanwhile, the Cargo division has scheduled 1,030 freighter flights during the period.

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Colombia, LATAM’s highlight

For quite some time now, Colombia has been the feel-good story of the aviation industry recovery in South America. On the other side, Colombian society is in the midst of political and social unrest.

LATAM Colombia currently has the best recovery levels among the six LATAM branches. According to a statement released by the company, it is now operating at 76% compared to July 2019.

Domestically, LATAM Colombia is operating at 98% of its pre-pandemic capacity, meaning it has almost completely recovered. LATAM has even launched a new domestic route between Medellin and Cucuta. The carrier is operating 136 daily flights on average.

Meanwhile, the international segment is a bit behind. LATAM Colombia has a projected operation of 50% in this market. There’s still much to recover, and it may take a while before the airline achieves it.

Currently, Colombia is one of the two Latin American countries fully opened and without any travel restrictions. The other one is Mexico.

LATAM has turned to the freighter business as a way to generate more revenues. Photo: Getty Images.

The cargo, LATAM’s new boom

LATAM Cargo has been booming recently. That’s why LATAM decided to increase its freighter fleet by 90%, converting ten Boeing 767-300ERs in the next couple of years.

Up to the end of 2021’s first quarter, LATAM Cargo generated US$345.2 million in revenue, despite the COVID crisis. We expect to see even better results between April and June.

In July, LATAM Cargo is operating only at 75% of its pre-pandemic capacity. Dedicated cargo is at 126%, while domestic and international bellies (that is, merchandise transported in the cargo hold of the aircraft) are at 63 and 50%, respectively.

As stated before, LATAM Cargo will have 1,030 freighter flights in July. That’s 20% more than the same month of 2019.

LATAM Brazil has the second-best commercial recovery after Colombia. Photo: Getty Images

How are the rest of the branches doing?

LATAM also has airline branches in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. It used to have one in Argentina, but the COVID-19 crisis forced its closure.

In each of these countries, LATAM is still less than 50% in terms of recovered capacity.

For instance, LATAM has a 48% projected operation in Brazil versus July 2019. Domestically, it is operating at 75%, while internationally only at 20%. During July, LATAM Brazil will serve 44 domestic and 13 international destinations; it has up to 418 daily flights on average.

Chile is performing a lot worse due to heavy travel restrictions in the country. LATAM is projecting a 35% recovery of operations (68% domestic and 21% international). The carrier will have 15 domestic destinations (equivalent to 122 daily flights on average) and 14 international. The most important announcement in Chile is that LATAM is restarting its Santiago-New York route.

In Ecuador, LATAM is operating at 23%, the worst percentage across the board. While 82% of its domestic capacity is recovered, only 7% of the international has. LATAM will have seven domestic destinations and two international.

Finally, LATAM has a 45% projected operation in Peru (66% domestic and 38% international. It has 19 domestic destinations (equivalent to 126 daily flights) and 17 international. In July, LATAM Peru has launched one new domestic route (Arequipa-Cusco) and restarted international flights from Lima to Madrid and Orlando.

What do you think of LATAM’s recovery so far? Let us know in the comments.