Aviation worldwide is facing one of the toughest health crises of the century. Still, Latin America has yet to feel the impact of coronavirus on connectivity. In fact, only a few airlines have reduced their capacity on flights to Asia and Europe. Nevertheless, the region has other challenges. Let’s dive into it.
Coronavirus isn’t affecting Latin America
As of 6 March, only nine countries in Latin America have reported coronavirus cases. Ecuador is the most affected with 13 active cases, however there have been no deaths reported at this time. Mexico, Brazil, and Chile have four active cases each. Saint Barthelemy has three, Dominican Republic and Argentina have two each. Finally, Peru and Panama have one case each.
Currently, the demand for interregional travel in Latin America is still good. Furthermore, only a few transoceanic routes have been reduced or canceled. The most recent airline to do this was Aerolíneas Argentinas, which reduced its service from five to three weekly flights between Buenos Aires and Rome. Previously, Air China extended the suspension of its route Beijing-Houston-Panama into March.
Earlier this week, Aeromexico announced a similar approach. During March, the airline will reduce its daily flights from Mexico City to Seoul by 50%. Going south, LATAM Group said this week that it is not planning to suspend routes due to the outbreak of coronavirus, with the exception of its Sao Paulo-Milan route. Avianca’s CEO, Anko van der Werff said that if the coronavirus doesn’t spread within Latin America they can still have “a much better year than 2019.”
Latin American airlines aren’t too worried about the impact coronavirus is having, unlike carriers in the Asia-Pacific and European regions. Then again, there are other aspects that should worry Latin American carriers.
What is affecting Latin American connectivity?
IATA didn’t publish any financial impact information regarding Latin America in its latest press release of the coronavirus. Every market worldwide, except for the Latin American and Africa, are expected to have heavy losses in passenger revenues.
Still, IATA pointed out that January international passenger demand rose in all regions, with the exception of Latin America. The organization said the following:
“Traffic for Latin American carriers has now been particularly weak for four consecutive months, reflecting continued social unrest and economic difficulties in a number of countries in the region unrelated to COVID-19.”
What can we expect for 2020?
Although many airlines in the region are betting on international connectivity, 2020 might not be the best year for Latin American carriers.
Over the last few years, Latin American airlines have been losing money continuously. According to IATA, in 2019, the carriers in the region lost $1.32 USD for each passenger flown.
The goal in 2020 was to obtain a staggering $0.42 USD for each passenger, said IATA during the Media Days event in Geneva, last December. Now with aviation worldwide taking a hit from the coronavirus, this seems very unlikely. Furthermore, the political and social unrest in the region will continue affecting local industry.
What do you think? Will the Latin American region be affected by coronavirus? Let us know in the comments.