LATAM Airlines Group sees opportunities to refocus its attention and resources towards the Colombian market, following the collapse of its Argentinian unit last year.
Describing the closure of LATAM Airlines Argentina in June 2020 as a “very hard decision”, LATAM Airlines Group chief executive Roberto Alvo told a CAPA Live event on 10 March that “a problem always brings an opportunity, and now we can refocus our resources where we believe we have a better chance of succeeding”.
That means the group – most of which is restructuring under US Chapter 11 protection – is “looking into the Colombian market, which is the second-largest market in the region”.
Having already positioned itself ”as clearly the second operator in Colombia”, LATAM Airlines still has a “great opportunity” in the country, Alvo states.
Helpfully, the operator has “come to a very, very solid cost position” at its Bogota base, he says.
And expansion in Colombia – where flag carrier Avianca is also reorganising under Chapter 11 protection – would complement the group’s Lima hub in neighbouring Peru, Alvo notes.
“I think that the complement of our Lima hub with our operation in the northern part of the subcontinent is very clear,” he says, adding that “the geography Colombia has with respect to the rest of the network of LATAM is just perfect”.
Indeed, Alvo believes that “the combination of [the hubs] we have today in Sao Paolo, Lima and Santiago, which allows us to connect South America with almost everywhere in the best of ways, is a huge benefit to any large deployment or operation that we could have in the northern part of the South American sub-continent”.
LATAM Airlines Argentina’s flights to and from 12 domestic destinations ceased in June 2020.
While Argentina “has huge potential” and is “very underdeveloped” in airline connectivity terms, ”we just couldn’t find the set of circumstances where we could believe that we could have a sustainable operation”, Alvo says…