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LATAM Airlines Group has announced that the in-flight connectivity (IFC) service from integrated satellite and terrestrial network provider Intelsat will be installed in its fleet of Airbus narrowbody aircraft.
First created in 1929 as LAN, the national airline of Chile, by Arturo Merino Benítez, LATAM is now the principal group of airlines in Latin America, present in five domestic markets in the region – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – as well as international operations inside Latin America and between it and Europe, the US and the Caribbean.
Despite, like all airlines, having been badly affected by the pandemic, LATAM’s operational passenger projection for January 2022 is estimated to reach up to 72% in available seat-kilometres (ASK) compared with January 2019 levels and a pre-pandemic context. In December 2021, passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres (RPK), was 68.8% compared with the same period in 2019, based on an operation measured in ASK of 70.1% compared with December 2019.
The group has a fleet of Boeing 767, 777 and 787, Airbus A321, A320, A320neo and A319 aircraft, and the new satellite connectivity will be added to the latest additions to the fleet, including A320ceo and A320neo variants, based in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. The installations will involve up to 160 aircraft and will take three years to complete.
About 70 new-delivery aircraft are expected to be installed with Intelsat’s 2Ku system by Airbus, prior to delivery to LATAM, at its manufacturing sites in the US and Europe. When completed, the entire fleet of LATAM narrowbody aircraft will be served by Intelsat’s IFC service.
“We have worked closely with Intelsat to deliver the best connectivity experience on our aircraft based in Brazil, but we know our customers in Spanish-speaking markets want the same on-board experience,” said LATAM’s vice-president of clients, Paulo Miranda. “Today’s announcement is the first step on that journey, as we aim to deliver the best connectivity service experience in the region using Intelsat’s 2Ku system.”
Dave Bijur, senior vice-president of commercial for Intelsat Commercial Aviation, added: “At Intelsat, our mission is to provide quality, reliable connectivity for work and entertainment, which is essential for airline partners and passengers alike. LATAM is an important customer to us and we look forward to providing their passengers across South America with exceptional customer service not just today and tomorrow, but for decades to come.”
With an initial $2bn investment, Intelsat said it is building the world’s first global unified network to support the next generation of global mobility. This includes a new fleet of software-defined satellites to meet airline passenger demand for streaming-quality in-flight connectivity. Intelsat said it brings airlines the scale and flexibility they depend on to deliver outstanding passenger experiences at any point in their route or network.