LATAM Argentina May Be Forced To Cut US Flights

Filed Under: LATAM

LATAM is the largest airline in Latin America, though in reality it has several different “branches.” LATAM is based in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. In a vast majority of cases, planes are shared across the divisions of the airline.

In other words, a flight from the US to Peru might actually be operated by an aircraft with a Chilean registration.


LATAM Argentina is one of the smaller divisions of the airline, as they have just 16 planes, including 13 A320s and three 767-300s. What also makes LATAM Argentina unique is that they’re the only division of the airline that exclusively operates their own planes. In other words, all LATAM Argentina flights are operated by those 16 planes, and all of the planes are registered in Argentina.

There are two reasons for this:

  • As of now the Argentinian government prohibits foreign owned planes from operating these flights
  • Some of LATAM Argentina’s unions support this restriction, as they fear they will lose control if foreign aircraft can operate these routes

Pretty soon this technicality has the potential to cause a major problem for the airline.

The airline is having industrial issues right now, and part of what’s being discussed is management’s desire to fully integrate LATAM Argentina into the overall LATAM group, and allow the use of foreign-registered planes.

The reason this is becoming an issue is because LATAM Argentina’s 767-300s are among the oldest 767s in the group, and they’re not ADS-B compliant. As of January 1, 2020, only ADS-B compliant planes are allowed to operate flights to the US.

LATAM Argentina operates a single route to the US, which is their Buenos Aires to Miami flight. The airline doesn’t have plans to make the LATAM Argentina 767s ADS-B compliant, meaning that either the route will have to be cut by the end of the year, or foreign registered aircraft will have to be allowed to operate this flight.

I would guess that this situation will work itself out:

  • This could just be a bargaining technique, and management could invest the money to make these planes compliant
  • The Argentinian government and unions are otherwise likely to come around on the issue, realizing that the route will either be ceased, or they’ll have to change their stance

This will be an interesting one to watch…

  1. What is happening is that the union (controlled btw by AR pilots in its majority) that if they let foreign aircraft enter to their country it will “destroy their jobs” acclaiming an open skies (which is false).
    The other point is that the investment to equipe the aircraft is 1,5 million e/o and they are +20 years so it’s no viable. If they reach an agreement the most probably thing is that they will send them to the scrapyard in favor of news ones (also with newer interiors).

  2. LATAM uses the union as an excuse in order not to change their aircraft.
    What the union says it’s true. If they give the rutes to international pilots they loose power of negotiations with the airline. So that I guess it won’t happen.

    What I think will happen will be that LATAM will change their aircraft or adapt the old ones to ADS-B (if it’s possible).

    They won’t loose the best international route they have.

  3. ADS-B is like a 100k mod. Almost every part on board the aircraft is more expensive. I can’t see why this would be a big deal for them.

  4. Norman… So that reinforces my theory.

    I have no doubt LATAM is using this excuse to weaken the Labor Union.

  5. LATAM Argentina is not the only one with its own planes. LATAM Brazil also only uses planes registered in Brazil and Brazilian crews (as required by the law), there’s no swapping of aircraft for Chilean ones.

  6. This is to a large degree the problem that Ryanair’s various unions have run into. Moving of flight crews on contracts from different contracts being assigned to fly planes that get shifted around every which way. It’s basically an end run around labor rules and “shopping” for a flag of convenience. This is why you have a million cruise ships registered in Liberia or Monaco.

  7. @Eduardo,

    LATAM Brazil operates Chile-registered 767s from a few locations (not their premium routes e.g. GRU-MIA, LHR, JFK I guess). With Brazilian crew, of course.

  8. Just perform a technical stop in Santiago with Chile registered aircraft? Say a 30 minutes turn around, it circumvents the problem while allowing LATAM to operate the route using much more efficient new aircraft.

  9. @JW
    The flight from EZE to SCL is 3 hours, followed by an hour on the ground in SCL. Are you suggesting travelers would accept increasing the length of the EZE-MIA trip by 4 additional hours?

  10. I think one or two years ago there was a GRU-EZE-BOG flight operated by a Brazilian 767 with a brazilian a crew.
    The same happened with a SCL-GRU-MXP (B788) and right now with SCL-GRU-TLV (B789). If I am also not mistaken, the same will happen in the near future in the GRU-MAD route, which will be SCL-GRU-MAD with a 789 (as Latam retrofit the 77W, I think).

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