Despite a challenging first quarter following the appearance of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and a dramatic increase in fuel prices, LATAM has continued to improve performance at the operational level and reduce its CASK (cost per ASK) ex-fuel. The group’s consolidated capacity (measured in ASKs) reached 68.2% of 2019 levels (an increase of 89.7% compared to the same quarter of 2021), a result that was mainly driven by domestic operations of the group’s subsidiaries.
Total costs for the quarter were US$2,097.2 million, which represents a decrease of 14.2% compared to 2019. CASK ex-fuel improved 6.8% compared to the fourth quarter of last year, going from US $5.6 cents to US$5.2 cents, an improvement of 29.3% compared to the same period in 2021. The above results can be explained by the cost reduction measures implemented by the group since the beginning of the reorganization process, which have translated into savings of more than US$900 million per year.
However, during the quarter, there was a significant increase in the average price of fuel, which was US$3.25 per gallon (excluding hedge), a 75.8% increase from the same period of the previous year and even 29.9% higher than the previous fourth quarter. This rise is largely due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Roberto Alvo, CEO of LATAM Airlines Group, said “we have had a substantial improvement in our results compared to the same period of 2021 even in a challenging environment.” He added, “We continue to be cautiously optimistic about the future, since even though we are witnessing a healthy recovery of passenger demand, the rising fuel price is a variable that we are closely monitoring.”
Total revenues during the quarter amounted to US$1,959 million, which is 22.4% below 2019 levels, but an increase of 114.5% compared to the first quarter of 2021. While passenger revenues fell 31.4% compared to 2019 (+199.1% vs 1Q21), the operations of LATAM’s cargo subsidiaries maintained their solid record, with revenues of US$430.7 million, representing an increase of 63.5% compared to the same period in 2019.
The operating result reached losses of US$138.2 million, while the bottom line result was a loss of US$380.1 million. This compares with a net loss of US$60.1 million in the same period of 2019, and a loss of US$430.9 million during the first quarter of last year.
Regarding its Chapter 11 proceedings, on May 6, 2022, LATAM disclosed the results of the vote on its Plan of Reorganization, which received sufficient support of approximately 82% in dollar amount and approximately 65% in number of voting creditors in the Plan’s main impaired class. These results do not yet include holders of RCF claims, who have until May 10, 2022 to submit their votes. This followed the US Court approval of LATAM’s Disclosure Statement on March 21, 2022, which allowed the Debtors to begin the voting solicitation process. The Confirmation Hearing on the Plan is scheduled to take place on May 17 and 18, 2022, as set by the US Court.
Advances in Sustainability
LATAM launched the “Fly Neutral Fridays” sustainability initiative during the quarter, which offsets emissions of emblematic routes on Fridays, supporting the protection of strategic ecosystems in South America. The group also incorporated a new sustainable Eco kit in the business cabin, and replaced the plastic bags which used to be included with headphones, blankets, and pillows with reusable materials.
LATAM extended its Solidarity Plane program to support the response to humanitarian crises worldwide. This program provides free passenger and cargo transport to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to help people who have left their homes in search of safety and protection. It also added two new alliances to the Solidarity Plane Program: the Fundación Cardioinfantil in Colombia, and the Foundations Committee of the Global Initiative to Fight Childhood Cancer in Peru.