COVID-19: Latin America market update (w/e May 24)

Routes' latest update on how airlines and airports across Latin America are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welcome to Routes’ look at how the Latin America aviation market is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, helping you understand the schedule changes and manage the impact so we can navigate through this crisis together.

 The data is supplied by OAG using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool unless stated. Please note: the COVID-19 crisis remains fluid as airlines around the world continue to make dramatic capacity cuts. OAG has taken several steps to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. 

LatAm capacity

After a slight uptick last week, the Latin America and Caribbean region lost more than 215,000 departure seats last week as the market overall contracted by 17.4%.

Although total capacity grew in Central America and the Caribbean, further losses in other parts of the region created the overall fall. Upper South America suffered most, losing almost 150,000 seats, or a further 40.6% of the total market.

LatAm countries

Latin America has become the “epicenter” of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“There can be no doubt our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Carissa Etienne, director of the WHO’s regional office, the Pan-American Health Organization.

“Now is not the time to relax restrictions or scale back preventative strategies, now is the time to stay strong, to remain vigilant, and to aggressively implement proven public health measures.”

Argentina suffered the greatest fall in overall traffic last week, losing more than 100,000 scheduled departure seats, accounting for 73.7% of the remaining market. In percentage terms, Peru suffered the greatest loss, with a 91.4% contraction in overall market size. Chile bucked the trend, adding 7,732 departure seats.

Argentina is taking strong measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19, with the government cordoning off Villa Azul on the outskirts of Buenos Aires after a high percentage of tests from the area were positive. Th country’s mandatory lockdown was extended to June 7 amid fears that the worst of the infections could be yet to come. 

Total deaths in Brazil have topped 25,000, with total cases rising to the second-highest total globally. The US has now enforced a travel ban to Brazil, which was brought forward in response to the rapid rise facing the country.

LatAm airlines

The below infographic shows the total capacity offered by airlines from and within Latin America since the beginning of March when COVID-19 restrictions started being imposed across the continent.

LATAM Airlines Group has become the world’s largest airline group pushed into bankruptcy by the COVID-19 crisis.

The group, which has entered Chapter 11 protection in New York, is hoping to use the process to restructure its debt and financing position.

“LATAM entered the COVID-19 pandemic as a healthy and profitable airline group, yet exceptional circumstances have led to a collapse in global demand and has not only brought aviation to a virtual standstill, but it has also changed the industry for the foreseeable future,” CEO Roberto Alvo said.

“We have implemented a series of difficult measures to mitigate the impact of this unprecedented industry disruption, but ultimately this path represents the best option to lay the right foundation for the future of our airline group. We are looking ahead to a post-COVID-19 future and are focused on transforming our group to adapt to a new and evolving way of flying, with the health and safety of our passengers and employees being paramount.”

Despite this, LATAM intends to proceed with the resumption of its Sao Paulo (GRU)-Mexico City (MEX) service in July 2020, and increase operations at Belo Horizonte (CNF), which rival Azul is also focusing on.

Following the liquidation of Avianca Peru and the Chapter 11 process of Avianca Holdings, the Colombian group is reportedly to exit 12 leases, mostly with Wells Fargo, according to a report in Reportur.

Aeromexico is reportedly set to re-start its Tokyo Narita (NRT) service from July 1. The carrier also announced that it would be resuming domestic services from MEX to Aguascalientes (AGU), La Paz Leon (LAP), Queretaro (QRO) and San Luis Potosi (SLP) from June 2020.

However, international flights to Medellin Jose Maria Cordova (MDE), Bogota El Dorado International (BOG) and Buenos Aires Ezeiza International (EZE) will remain suspended until August 31.

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

Share this article

The economic impact of hosting World Routes

The World Routes Economic Impact Study highlights the long-term effects hosts have benefited from on their economy, tourism activity and city's airports.

Request Economic Impact Study