Organisation: Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA)
Headquarters: Miami, USA
Year founded: 1980
Members: More than 30 airlines, representing over 90% of the region’s commercial air traffic
How did 2010 shape up for the region’s airlines?
As we celebrated ALTA’s 30th anniversary last year, the Latin America region continued to experience tremendous growth and recovery, despite the continued uncertainty of the global economic environment and fluctuating fuel prices, among other challenges. During the first half of 2010, the number of passengers carried by ALTA’s member airlines increased 15.6% year on year, reaching 65.9 million passengers. Traffic (RPKs) rose 14.4%, capacity (ASK) increased 8%, and passenger load factor reached 71.3%, which is 4% higher than the previous year. Freight tonne kilometres increased 44.3%. The Latin American and Caribbean carriers even showed a 3.9% RPK growth for 2009 over 2008 – quite an achievement in a year of crisis and H1N1. The industry in the region has spent over $30 billion on new aircraft over the past five years, giving it one of the youngest and most efficient fleets in the world. By any standards, these numbers are strong, with the South American markets, led by Brazil, showing the way. Plus, significant restructuring and consolidation is still taking place.
What impact will the proposed merger of TAM and LAN have on the region?
It will strengthen competition while also offering far more options and better connectivity for passengers. This will see many new opportunities in the region.
Should the planned merger worry any airports?
I don’t think so – if anything they will be able to flow more passengers.
Are the region’s airports equipped to cope with long-term growth across the region?
Despite facing many challenges, the outlook is good and there is great opportunity for Latin America’s air transport industry, if we can effectively manage the forecast growth by continuing to focus our collective efforts on a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly industry. Meanwhile, we continue to urge governments to reinvest the more than $4 billion per year that has been paid by passengers and airlines in the region to manage our growth safely and effectively. They must focus on improving the industry’s safety record and provide adequate infrastructure. We must address the issue of congestion at our airports and work on solutions to avoiding a bottle-neck in our growth.
What impact have LCCs had on the South American market?
Their impact has been huge. Specifically in Brazil and Mexico, and now Colombia. LCCs have taken close to 50% of the market in a few years, lowered fares and stimulated the market place.
Are the region’s airlines doing enough to protect the environment?
Yes, this is another key focus for ALTA and our members, and we have a number of initiatives focusing on new fleet, noise reduction and fuel emissions. ALTA supports the goals and targets set collectively by the industry, including an average fuel efficiency improvement of 1.5% per year until 2020; carbon neutral growth from 2020; and a 50% reduction in aviation’s net carbon emissions by 2050, compared with a baseline of 2005.
Is Latin America still a compelling region for investment?
Yes, if you are willing to look at the long-term. Return on investment has been very positive and the region has some of the most efficient carriers in the world.