LATAM Airlines, Latin America’s largest carrier to the United States, has canceled 90% of its international flights in response to the region’s drastic measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The carrier will ultimately reduce its operations by 70% by also cutting back its domestic operations by 40%. However, the airliner has offered flexibility for passengers to reschedule travel dates at no cost.
“All customers with affected international and national flights from today can reschedule their journeys until December 31, 2020, at no additional cost,” reads the company’s statement, released yesterday, as most Latin American nations take harder measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
Roberto Alvo, the company’s CEO-elect, has warned that there could be more reductions if governments extend travel restrictions.
“We made this difficult decision following border closures that have made operating to a large part of our network impossible.”
LATAM is only the latest to announce a dramatic decrease in its operations. Many carriers have already grounded most of their flights. American Airlines, another major airline that operates flights numerous routes across Latin America, has also cut a vast majority of its flights to the region.
Brazilian low-cost carriers Gol and Azul have also canceled international flights. Reports say they are not seeing buyers for their domestic flights as well.
Mexican carrier Aeromexico has announced that it would take almost all its flights to Europe from March 17 through April 30, according to Reuters.
Airliners are the primary business victims of the travel ban resulted from the outbreak of the virus. With their stock prices tumbling to new lows, they are now seeking tax relief and other concessions from airport authorities.
Reuters says Brazil would soon announce a relief package for airliners to help them weather the economic storm triggered by the pandemic. Brazilian carriers are demanding the removal of payroll and sales tax.