LATAM Airlines posts $692 million Q3 loss as pandemic headwinds persist

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SANTIAGO (Businesshala) – Latin America’s biggest airline, LATAM Airlines, reported a loss of some $692 million in the third quarter on Tuesday, as the indebted company said it still grapples with challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

LATAM’s total revenue rose to $1.31 billion in the July-September quarter, a 156% increase from the same period last year, but only half the level in early 2020 compared to before the pandemic.

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“Despite the pandemic, which is not over and it is still having an impact, we have managed to close the third quarter with improved operating performance across all businesses,” Finance Vice President Ramiro Alfonsín told reporters.

The result was supported by improved performance in the domestic travel market and solid cargo business, balancing weak performance on international routes hit by global travel restrictions that are still in flux.

Operating capacity for the quarter averaged close to half of pre-pandemic levels and the airline said it expected to reach around 65% of that level by the end of the year. Alfonsín said he expects the airline’s major Brazilian operations to recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

In May 2020, LATAM filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, due to the impact of restrictions related to the pandemic. Alfonsin said on Tuesday that the airline would present a restructuring plan this month.

“Now we are finalizing the final details of our restructuring plan, for which we are holding a meeting with the stakeholders and we expect to submit it by November 26,” he said.

The airline, born out of the merger of Chile’s LAN with Brazilian rival TAM in 2012, has operating units in Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Reporting by Fabian Andrés Cambero in Santiago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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