SANTIAGO (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines, Latin America’s largest, predicts a longer and slower recovery than expected following the coronavirus pandemic, forcing it to defer much of its planned investment, CEO Roberto Alvo said on Thursday.
The chief executive said in a shareholders’ meeting the company had been forced to cancel or defer $900 million in investments and was negotiating to postpone the delivery of new planes for its fleet.
“The recovery will be longer and slower than we´d hoped for, and will therefore continue to affect us significantly,” Alvo said. “It is inevitable that LATAM airlines and its subsidiaries will need to reconsider our size and the way we operate.”
CEO Alvo said in a shareholders meeting that operations would struggle to exceed 70% of pre-crisis levels.
“And it could even be just 50%,” Alvo warned.
Since mid-March, LATAM has announced a gradual reduction in flights due to lower demand and tightening travel restrictions imposed by governments to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Air traffic in Latin America in April fell 91% compared to a year earlier due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to industry group ALTA.
Alvo said that despite the dire news, “the numbers could change significantly in the coming weeks or months.”
Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood, editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell