LATAM Airlines’ cargo division took redelivery of the first of three 767-300 converted freighters (34628) it has on order with Boeing. Redelivery of the second and third freighters in the order is expected in 2019 and 2020, respectively, at which time the carrier expects to have twelve 767-300Fs operating in its network.
The carrier said the freighter will operate on routes primarily in South America, Central America, and Europe. LATAM’s focus on those markets, as well as a growing trade imbalance of perishable exports from South America compared to more modest growth of imports to the region, explains the carrier’s shift this year away from the 777Fs it had currently operated, toward a more streamlined 767F fleet.
Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings acquired the two ex-LATAM 777Fs early this year, as LATAM shifted to a new fleet strategy after about five years of losses on the cargo side. Utilization of the smaller 767 freighters supported LATAM’s improving cargo revenues, which first rebounded in 3Q 2017.
“The 767 is the preferred aircraft we’ve used as a freighter, mostly because in the regions we fly, it combines both the right payload and range to address the markets we serve,” said Bianchi. South America, Central America, and European markets “are thinner markets compared to the large freighter markets you see between Asia and the US or Asia and Europe,” he said.
Although demand for perishables from South and Central America has continued to improve, slower demand growth into those regions also supports LATAM’s more streamlined 767 freighter fleet. At this year’s Cargo Facts Symposium in San Diego, Bianchi told delegates, “Imbalance between imports and exports has become more significant,” with about two-to-three-times more demand for exports compared to imports. “That’s forcing us to rethink our network and how do we build the connectivity to respond to the situation,” he added.
LATAM said it expects the newly converted 767-300BCF to improve its Latin America focus “by reinforcing our cargo operation and supplementing our passenger network.” While much of its cargo travels in bellies of passenger planes, and LATAM has launched thirty-two routes, including to new destinations, this year, LATAM Cargo has also added several new cargo-only routes during 2018. Those include: Miami (MIA)-Brussels (BRU); BRU-Montevideo (MVD); Amsterdam (AMS)-Madrid (MAD); MAD-Guarulhos(GRU)-Santiago (SCL); MIA-Antofagasta (ANF)-SCL; and the most recently added Bogota (BOG)-Huntsville (HSV) service for Panalpina, as reported in Air Cargo World.
Those interested in learning more about freighter conversions are invited to join us Cargo Facts EMEA, to be held 4-6 February at The Westin Grand Frankfurt. To register or for more information, visit www.cargofactsemea.com.