The LATAM Group completes its first service to Doha, Qatar using a B777-300ER passenger aircraft reconfigured for cargo use.
LATAM Airlines Brazil transported perishables from LATAM Cargo customers in South America to the Middle East and returning to Latin America with a load of electronics.
The B777-300ER took off from Guarulhos airport (GRU) in Brazil en route to Santiago (SCL), Chile, with a technical stop in Recife (REC), Brazil, before continuing its journey to Doha (DOH). The return flight ended in Guarulhos.
The temporary service which started with the first flight on 30 November is being undertaken to support peak season demand from its customers, LATAM says.
“Landing in Qatar for the first time is the clearest demonstration of our commitment to satisfying the needs of our cargo customers,” says Kamal Hadad, VP Network and Alliances of LATAM Cargo. “With the help of our subsidiaries, we managed to successfully coordinate and implement a route permitting to reduce transport time to relevant markets while supporting export and import markets in South America.”
A second flight departed on 7 December, destined for Doha. In total, with these operations, LATAM carried over 95 tonnes of fresh fruit, which connected with the carrier’s interline partner Qatar Airways to continue their journey to Shanghai. They also facilitated the import of more than 60 tonnes of electronics into the Brazilian and Chilean markets, ahead of the peak Christmas season demand.
LATAM Cargo employed a strategy many carriers tapped during the ongoing pandemic, that of using passenger aircraft for all-cargo transport, “which proved very helpful to mitigate the belly capacity reduction caused by the global border closure,” the carrier says.
More than 50 people from different departments formed the team responsible for the implementation and logistics of this operation, which totaled 18 hours of flight from its origin in Brazil until its final destination in Doha.
“We are aware this route is temporary and responsive to the high fruit season in Chile and the greater demand for electronics during Christmas time, but we will continue to adapt our operation to better serve our customers and carry South American products to the world,” Hadad says.
During the pandemic, LATAM Cargo Group has introduced a number of changes to its itinerary and operation in an effort to mitigate the negative impact of reduced belly capacity on customers, it says.
Among the measures taken includes the use of passenger aircraft as all-cargo carriers on international and domestic routes, with different types of aircraft, including B777, B787, B767, A320 and A321. In some cases, LATAM also utilised seat containers to increase cargo capacity on our passenger aircraft. Tapping this strategy, LATAM Cargo Airlines was able to expand the capacity of its cargo-only fleet of eleven B767F.
The carrier also paid keen attention to key markets, such as Santiago (SCL) – Miami (MIA) which saw a five-fold growth in frequencies from six weekly to 31 per week. This provided a “robust solution” for exporters of salmon, one of Chile’s premier industries, the carrier notes.
“We also increased our frequencies between Bogota (BOG) and Miami by 28 per cent, from 14 to 18 frequencies per week, which, together with our five flights from Medellin (EOH), total 22 frequencies between Colombia and the United States to support flower exporters,” LATAM says.
Connectivity also increased between Miami and South America and between Europe and South America. And also during this period, the Group opened direct routes to benefit different industrial sectors in the countries where it operates, like routes between North America and Brazil, and new cargo destinations of Los Angeles and Mexico.