As economies in Latin America continue to rebound after an extended period of contraction, the region is seeing a resurgence in demand for freighters. Speakers on a Latin America-focused panel at Cargo Facts Symposium 2018 argued that the equipment utilized, and the networks in which freighters operate, are evolving to match the needs of today’s market.
LATAM Cargo, the largest freighter operator based in the region, has in recent years consolidated its freighter operations by offloading large widebody 777Fs in favor of freighter-converted 767Fs. As of 2014, LATAM operated ten 767-300Fs and four 777Fs across its various subsidiaries. Today, the Group’s freighter fleet stands at just nine 767-300Fs, and an MD-11F operated on behalf of LATAM Cargo by Western Global Airlines.
Looking ahead, LATAM has confirmed it will add at least three freighter-converted 767Fs, with the feedstock units to be sourced from LATAM Cargo’s passenger affiliate – the first of which (34628) has already been inducted for conversion by Boeing at the EGAT facility in Taipei. All three of the conversions are expected to be redelivered before the end of 2020. Cargo Facts also believes LATAM Cargo is evaluating A330 conversions.
Andrés Bianchi, CEO, LATAM Cargo, recently told Cargo Facts, “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.” He added, “These are thinner markets compared to the large freighter markets you see between Asia and the US or Asia and Europe. These markets are much smaller, so you need a smaller freighter.”
In the video that follows, Bianchi discusses how the growing imbalance between imports and exports out of Latin America has prompted LATAM to reevaluate its network, and double-down its focus on 767F operations.