LATAM Group (LATAM) has announced the expansion of its freighter fleet, saying it plans to add 10 Boeing 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighters over the next three years.
This will bring the fleet size for the Chile-based carrier to up to 21 767-300 freighters by 2023. The first aircraft will be expected to begin operations in December 2021.
The Group’s freighter fleet growth plan initially included four firm conversion orders with Boeing and another four conversion options. Two months after the initial announcement, LATAM has exercised the four options, eight planes, and the conversion of two additional Boeing 767-300ERs.
This means that the freighter fleet will comprise up to 21 aircraft by the end of 2023. Upon completion of the plan the Group will have almost doubled its freighter capacity as well as reduced the average fleet age from 17 to 14 years.
LATAM is the largest airline company in Latin America and has subsidiaries in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.
“The decision to expand our fleet is based on the attractive growth opportunities available, recent efficiency improvements and flexibility that the Boeing 767F freighter offers,” said Andrés Bianchi, LATAM Cargo CEO.
“This expansion will allow LATAM’s cargo subsidiaries to continue responding to our customers’ needs and supporting the region’s economic growth through increased and improved connectivity.”
Growing from 11 to 21 freighter planes will enable the LATAM Group’s cargo subsidiaries to expand and reinforce their capacity to, from and within South America, and positioning the Group as a main freighter operator group in the region. The first eight airplanes have been allocated to markets that are critical for key customer segments.
The plan focuses on improving connectivity between North and South America. Capacity from Colombia and Ecuador will be strengthened to support the flower export industry, said Kamal Hadad, LATAM Cargo’s network and alliances director.
“Additional flights will support Chilean salmon exports as well as import traffic into the country. Capacity to and from Brazil will also go up as we add routes from North America and Europe, boosting both the export and import markets,” he added.
Hadad noted that the freighter fleet flexibility will help LATAM assess a range of options. “For example, the two additional conversions could be used to refresh the current fleet or to begin new growth projects. The Group still has time to make the relevant decisions.”
LATAM also announced that it will use some of the 767-300ERs that are awaiting conversion under a hybrid format to benefit customers in the short term. The seats will be completely removed from three planes for this purpose in order to have a payload of up to 46 tons per flight. Two of these planes are already operational. The third one is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2021.