For the first time in its history, LATAM Airlines Group has flown to Qatar. In two flights operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the South American carrier connected Chile and Brazil with the Middle East. But why did this flight happen?
LATAM launched cargo operations
LATAM Airlines Group has a fleet of ten Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Due to the current covid-19 crisis, the airline is using part of its fleet for cargo-only operations. This was the case with a Boeing 777-300ER registration PT-MUI.
On November 30, 2020, LATAM flew this aircraft from Santiago de Chile, transporting fruit, specifically cherries, to Asia. Due to the flight’s length, the plane landed in Recife, Brazil, for a quick stopover.
In a statement the airline said,
“For the first time, one of the Group’s aircraft, operated by LATAM Airlines Brazil, landed in Doha, Qatar, transporting perishables from LATAM Cargo customers in South America to Asia and returning to Latin America with electronic products.”
A few days later, on December 7, LATAM sent PT-MUI again to Doha, transporting over 95 tons of fresh fruit. Then, its interline partner Qatar Airways grabbed the cargo and continued the journey towards Shanghai, China.
On both journeys, the Boeing 777-300ER returned from Doha to Sao Paulo, transporting over 60 tons of electronics. The objective is to distribute these electronics into Brazilian and Chilean markets in time for the high Christmas season demand.
No long-haul? No problem (not really)
During the pandemic, LATAM Cargo has used passenger aircraft exclusively for cargo transportation.
“By doing so during the pandemic, the company has been able to mitigate the belly capacity reduction caused by international closed-border policies,” said LATAM.
This strategy has been replicated by many airlines across the world. For instance, Grupo Aeromexico sent many cargo flights to China during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. Aerolíneas Argentinas recently made a world tour of more than 40,000 km to connect Buenos Aires and Guangzhou.
As IATA recently said, air cargo traffic has fallen little because it remains essential. While passenger airlines are trying to cope with the biggest crisis in their history, they are turning themselves into freighter carriers flying around the world with goods.
How has LATAM Cargo operated in the last few months?
LATAM Airlines Group has a cargo-only division that has its own fleet, consisting of 11 Boeing 767F. But in the midst of the pandemic, the cargo carrier has increased its fleet size to cope with the demand.
The airline said,
“One of the highlighted measures includes the utilization of passenger aircraft exclusively for cargo transportation on a regular basis. This occurs both in international and domestic routes using different aircraft, including B777, B787, B767, A320, and A321. In some cases, seat containers have been used to optimize cargo transportation capacity in passenger aircraft.”
LATAM has also increased cargo frequencies between multiple markets to ensure capacity in these cities. For instance, it multiplied by five its weekly flights between Santiago and Miami, going from six to 31 weekly frequencies.
The airline also increased by 28% of its flights from Bogota to Miami, going from 14 to 18. In Colombia, it also added five frequencies from Medellin, offering a total of 22 weekly flights between this country and the US.
About Qatar’s flight, Kamal Hadad, LATAM Cargo’s Network and Alliances VP, said that it was a clear demonstration of the airlines’ commitment to satisfy its cargo customers’ needs.
What do you think of LATAM Cargo’s operation? Let us know in the comments.