Jan 11, 2019: LATAM Cargo will start twice weekly flights between Santiago and Chicago, returning via Miami from February 19.

LATAM took delivery of the converted B767-300ER in December, the first of three such aircraft to join its freighter fleet. The arrival of the 767-300 brought the carrier’s freighter fleet to 10 cargo aircraft, all of them 767s.

Although deployed between Chile and the US, the new freighter operation aims beyond North America, and its chief cargo will be perishables, primarily salmon, bound for Asia.

Moving over Chicago establishes a faster connection to Asian markets, the carrier said, and working with interline partners for the Chicago-Asia leg LATAM can offer its clientele of shippers in Chile transpacific transit time less than 35 hours.

“Having access to Chicago gives us a number of benefits,” said Kamal Hadad, director of LATAM Cargo Network. “The greater diversity of operators in this city allows us to have more alternatives for entering into interline agreements, thus meeting the increasing interest of our customers in shipping their cargo to Asia. Miami and Los Angeles continue to be crucial for LATAM Cargo’s operation and we serve them both with our all-cargo planes and our passenger airliners’ bellies. But Chicago adds diversification.”

Perishables exports from Latin America to Asia have gone through the roof. Over 80 percent of Chile’s cherry crop in 2017 was exported to China. For last year’s cherry season, DHL Global Forwarders lined up 15 charters to serve Asian markets.

Chile has been the most aggressive Latin American country in the pursuit of Asian sales, but others are following suit – Peru, which signed a free trade agreement with China in 2009, is currently negotiating an updated agreement and according to Peru’s trade minister, this is expected to be ready next year.

Andres Bianchi, vice-president of cargo at LATAM, stated, “While cherries, blueberries, asparagus and flowers create seasonal peaks, salmon is enjoying stable demand year-round.

According to the airline, salmon exports from Chile to Asia have grown from an average of 37 tonnes a week in 2014 to 700 tonnes a week last year.

These partnerships are not solely confined to airlines. In early December, LATAM launched a weekly freighter flight from Bogota to Huntsville to feed perishables exports into Panalpina’s network.

The logistics provider, which has used Huntsville for a long time chiefly for automotive traffic, has aggressively built up its perishables capacity over the past couple of years.

While exports from Latin America to Asia are on a high, traffic in the opposite direction has been hampered by economic headwinds and downward pressure on currencies in Latin America, especially Brazil.

Moreover, while Latin America’s largest economy remains the primary market for Asian exports, perishables exporters in Latin America are primarily concentrated on the west coast.

Read Full Article