During the first three months of the year, Latam Cargo saw the main export markets from the US to Brazil and Chile decline by around 20%, compared with 2022.
However, Gudny Genskowsky, director of alliances and network, expects the situation to improve in the second quarter, as demand starts to recover, due to the opening of China and the regularisation of volumes.
“Demand from South America is healthy; the main export markets, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia, have seen growth of between 5% and 10% compared with 2022,” she told The Loadstar.
In early March, Latam Cargo said it would launch services connecting South America and the US, in response to a requirement for greater capacity between the north and south tradelanes. The new routing serves Quito (Ecuador), Los Angeles and Houston and Manaus and Sao Paulo in Brazil twice weekly, and will increase to four during the second half.
“Growth from South America is influenced by better exchange rates in all countries and better demand in the US for perishable products,” explained Ms Genskowsky.
The new routes will be vital in supporting the carrier’s flower business from Ecuador, diversifying their export destinations and adding Los Angeles as a new delivery point, adding to Miami and Amsterdam.
Including Houston should significantly cut transport times from the US west coast and southern states to South America for the goods such as industrial and electronic components, machinery, engines and automotive parts.
Los Angeles will play an increasingly vital role for interline access to the large Asian market, and Latam Cargo will be seeking flexibility in the network to offer customised solutions to grow the cargo business. However, Ms Genskowsky explained that the interline agreements in development were intended to optimise the entire network, and not necessarily specific gateways or routes.
She added: “With that in mind, Los Angeles is a great gateway to connect Latin America with Asia. We are reviewing how we can include our new flight to the interline agreements so we can grow business with our partners via Los Angeles and other gateways.”
An additional converted B767-300BCF arrived recently, bringing the freighter fleet to 17, a 6% increase in capacity that can be offered to shippers, the carrier said.
The latest delivery, converted in Singapore, will play a pivotal role in supporting the new services to North America, as well as increasing capacity offered to Europe. The 767 freighters are regarded as the right size to complement Latam’s belly capacity, and will “further contribute to strengthening the value proposition” and expanding the network.
The growth plan targets 20 767 freighters by 2024, doubling the pre-pandemic capacity offering.
“We announced a plan to convert and add to the fleet 10 B767-300s with the Boeing-converted freighter STC. We have received five, the latest at the beginning of the month, with another five yet to be delivered,” said Ms Genskowsky.
Last year, Latam Cargo also received a factory-built 767F, which is already in operation, she added.
According to Boeing order and delivery data, last year, the company delivered 18 new 767Fs, notably to FedEx Express, and generated 10 orders, eight headed for UPS. However, new deliveries may be delayed.