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A VivaAerobus A320 in Las Vegas (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

How Latin American Airlines are Looking to Bring Back Passengers as Countries Reopen

After weeks of lockdown orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aviation industry fallout that ensued, LATAM and Avianca Holdings were forced to file for Chapter 11 U.S. bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Peter Cerdá, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regional Vice President for the Americas, recently told Reuters that “if we continue on this path, we will have many more airlines that will have to file for Chapter 11 and we will have even more airlines without the possibility of reactivating their flights permanently, and some others, will be forced to close. We cannot wait so much time. Domestic flights in Latin American countries must fly domestically by July and as soon as possible. Countries have to begin to reestablish international flights.”

In the case of Avianca, the Operations Vice President, Julián Laverde, declared this week to local outlet AeroLatin News that the carrier is ready to restart operations once the Colombian government and local authorities determine which airports will resume operations in order to build a route network that makes sense with demand and with the airline’s destinations.

“We know that the aviation sector is a necessary public service for many economic sectors and for people who need to fly,” Laverde said.

There are many other airlines, such as Avianca, which are waiting for authorization to restart operations. In the meantime, many airlines have made humanitarian and repatriation flights during the different quarantines imposed by different countries in order to bring home citizens of their respective countries.

After the lockdowns, quarantines and the reopening of national borders, there will be massive competition between airlines to gain a slice of the significantly smaller pie representing demand post-COVID-19. What are Latin American airlines doing to attract the attention of future passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A Variety of Responses

For example, in Chile, Sky Airlines has announced that they use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in their aircraft. The filters have similar performance to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms and industrial clean rooms. These filters are very effective at trapping microscopic particles as small as bacteria and viruses.

Filtered, recirculated air will in turn provide higher cabin humidity levels and lower particulate levels than 100% outside air systems. Cabin air circulation is continuous, meaning air is always flowing into and out of the cabin. Total airflow to the cabin is supplied at a bulk flow rate equivalent to 20 to 30 complete cycles per hour, according to IATA.

In the case of LATAM, the carrier has offered free schedule changes, and if the passenger is not sure about the date they want to travel, the airline will allow them to leave the ticket open for up to 12 months. The airline has also reduced its ticket costs by up to 20% to incentivize travelers to book.

A National Campaign

What else can Latin American airlines do to get passengers’ attention? In order to contribute to the national economic reactivation through tourism, Viva Aerobus, the Mexican ultra-low-cost airline, created the “Together We Will Take Off” initiative.

Through this campaign, all small- and medium-sized businesses that depend on tourism are invited to enroll in the program so that their services and products can be advertised through Viva Aerobus social and digital media. The objective is to contribute with free promotion that allows the businesses to reach their potential consumers and boost their sales, which have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“Mexico counts on Viva Aerobus. We are committed to support all of us who are part of the country’s great tourist family, a sector on which thousands of Mexicans depend, Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua said in an interview with AeroLatin News. “Situations like this require solidarity and teamwork take off together.”

Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
Juan Pedro Sanchez Zamudio
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