x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Bolivia regulator clips Latam's wings

Relationships in Latin America became decidedly chilly at the weekend after an airline company had its permission to operate some flights suspended.

A TAM Airlines plane takes off from Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro. The airline has lost its licence to fly in Bolivia. Sergio Moraes / Reuters
A TAM Airlines plane takes off from Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro. The airline has lost its licence to fly in Bolivia. Sergio Moraes / Reuters

Relationships in Latin America became decidedly chilly at the weekend after an airline company had its permission to operate some flights suspended.

Bolivia's air transport regulator said units of Latam Airlines Group had lost their operating licences to fly in the Andean country, although they could still file to extend or renew them. Two units of the Latam group, Lan and Tam-Mercosur, "are not authorised to continue providing service as of February 15", the regulator said. No reason was given.

A statement on Lan's website said the affected airlines would "formally seek to renew their licences, with the objective of continuing to regularly operate their flights".

"Flights in which customers had already bought their tickets will operate normally and will not be affected by the resolution."

Lan and Tam serve the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz and La Paz, with direct flights from Iquique, Chile, Lima, Peru, and Asuncion, Paraguay. The site did not mention the number of flights affected.

Industry sources said earlier the carriers were still planning to provide service to Bolivia until formally notified of the ruling. Latam Airlines, Latin America's largest carrier, is the product of the recent takeover by the Chilean flagship airline Lan of Brazil's Tam.

Last week, Latam reported passenger traffic increased 6.3 per cent last month as capacity rose 6.1 from the same month last year. International passenger traffic accounted for about 50 per cent of last month's total traffic.

Domestic traffic in Latam's Spanish speaking operations (Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia) rose 10 per cent, as did capacity, compared with January last year. Domestic traffic in Brazil rose 3.8 per cent, as capacity decreased 5.2 per cent. International passenger traffic rose 6.7 per cent, while capacity increased 13.6 per cent. International traffic includes international operations of both Lan and Tam on regional and long-haul routes.

Cargo traffic for Latam slid 1.1 per cent last month on the same month last year, as capacity increased 4.9 per cent.

The decrease in traffic was driven by weaker imports into Latin America, the company said.

 

* with Reuters