LATAM will retire its entire Airbus A350 fleet

Apr 9, 2021

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LATAM Airlines plans to retire its fleet of Airbus A350s, the airline confirmed to TPG on Friday.

The news comes with the airline seeking to cut costs and reorganize nearly a year after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid the fallout of the global COVID-19 crisis.

The airline’s A350 fleet has served as something of a bellwether for the broader airline industry over the past several years.

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After Delta purchased a 20% stake in the airline conglomerate — which is headquartered in Chile and features subsidiaries in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru — the U.S. airline made a deal to buy 14 Airbus A350s from LATAM, including four jets that LATAM already had, and 10 which were still due to be delivered.

That deal came as air travel demand continued to expand globally, with Delta finding itself needing additional aircraft.

As global travel demand collapsed — particularly long-haul travel — during the pandemic, Delta backed out of the deal, paying a $62 million settlement to get out of the commitment.

LATAM’s A350s were first ordered by TAM, the Brazilian carrier that merged with Chile’s LAN in 2012. The latter had orders for Boeing’s competing 787 Dreamliner. LATAM took delivery of its first A350 in 2016. The fleet’s average age is just over three years, according to Planespotters.net.

At the time of the original deal, LATAM sought to cut expenses but still planned to fly nine A350-900s for the LATAM Brazil subsidiary. With the retirement announcement, LATAM will operate an all-Boeing long-haul fleet, featuring a variety of 767s, 777s, and 787s.

It was not clear what would come of the airline’s A350s, although it’s possible the carrier could seek to return them to lessors under bankruptcy settlements.

In a statement, the airline confirmed that it was restructuring its wide-body fleet.

Featured photo by By Ariadne Barroso / Shutterstock

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