Air Cargo

LATAM adds 19th 767-300 freighter – 3rd in 2023

LATAM Cargo solidified its position as the largest cargo airline group in South American in November when it acquired its 19th 767-300 freighter, the third cargojet added to its fleet this year, completing its expansion plan, and beefing up its freighter capacity 70% since 2019 when similar airlines were cutting lift.

“Basically, our plan was formulated looking at volumes in 2018-19 where we saw opportunities for growth and we did not take into consideration what was going to happen in the pandemic between 2020 and 2022,” director and CEO Andres Bianchi told American Journal of Transportation in an exclusive interview.

“When we built the expansion plan, we looked at the long-term opportunities for growth and built in a lot of flexibility. Essentially, we built a business plan for each plane that we could adjust accordingly, and it worked.”

In the short term, LATAM Cargo said in a press statement, the cargo fleet will focus on providing additional capacity during the peak seasons of fruit exports in Chile—cherries in the final quarter of the year—and Valentine’s Day flower exports from Colombia and Ecuador. Subsequently, the focus will shift toward strengthening long haul operations from Europe and North America to South America.”

LATAM Expansion Plan

The expansion plan, announced in 2021, was spearheaded by the addition of eight LATAM passenger-to-cargo converted aircraft. The 19th freighter is also a converted passenger plane.

Will LATAM Cargo continue to expand its freighter fleet?

“Our plan is to keep a core fleet of 19 767-300 freighter aircraft however, we are always looking at opportunities and if certain opportunities materialize, we may add,” says Bianchi. “We can also supplement from time to time with ACMI [aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance] capacity.”

Asked if the cargo airline will add new frequencies or destinations in 2024 or beyond, the CEO was non-committal. “It’s more like adding depth to markets we already serve. Other than adding depth and breadth to our current schedule, we’re looking at opportunities that could add one or two new markets but we’re not ready to pull the trigger yet and announce them.”

Bianchi hinted that LATAM Cargo could also upgrade its freighter fleet, but he did not give specifics. “We do have a plan to receive some additional airframes that will be utilized to phase out some of our older freighter aircraft—to refresh the fleet.”

Looking ahead, the LATAM Cargo CEO is cautious in describing his outlook for 2024. “Let’s say I am mildly optimistic. We believe certain things will improve at the global level and regionally in South America but there is still a lot of economic and political uncertainty that could affect (freight) volumes. Hopefully, that won’t happen.”

Currently, parent LATAM Group operates 321 aircraft including the 19 Boeing 767-300 freighters operated by three subsidiaries—LATAM Cargo Chile, LATAM Cargo Colombia and LATAM Cargo Brazil.

Chris Barnett
Chris Barnett


Chris Barnett is a seasoned San Francisco-based freelance journalist who has been covering world trade, transportation, air freight and business travel for 54 years.He has written regularly for the Journal of Commerce, Copley News Service, Los Angeles Times, airline inflight magazines and JoeSentMe,com, a private website for global business travelers.

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