LATAM Airlines says cutting 1,400 jobs in South America

LATAM Airlines said Friday it would lay off 1,400 employees in South America, blaming a drastic slump in business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Despite all the efforts we have made to take care of jobs, we are forced to make this difficult decision,” said Roberto Alvo, executive director of the Chilean-Brazilian carrier.

“The effects of COVID-19 are profound and makes reducing the size of the LATAM group inevitable to protect its sustainability in the medium term,” Alvo said in a statement.

The jobs will be cut from operations in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the carrier said.

A merger of Chile’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM, the airline announced last month it was scaling back its operations by 95 percent in response to the global health crisis.

LATAM normally flew to 145 destinations in 26 countries, with around 1,400 flights a day.

Friday’s redundancy plan is in addition to the voluntary retirement program announced last week by the group, which provides for the departure of another 800 people in the six countries where it operates.

The global aviation industry has suffered a severe blow from the pandemic, directly affected by border closures and population lockdowns.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast a $15 billion loss in revenue for Latin American airlines this year.

On Sunday, Latin America’s second largest airline, Colombia’s Avianca, filed for bankruptcy in the United States to reorganize its debt “due to the unpredictable impact” of the pandemic.

Latin America saw its coronavirus cases pass 300,000 this week, with the death toll at more than 16,000. (AFP)