Rise in demand for US travel on vaccine tourism: LATAM Airlines Group

In a statement the LATAM Airlines Group said it sees an increase in demand from South Americans wanting to travel to the US to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The past few weeks we have seen an increase in that demand and in the occupancy of those planes, but we continue with a capacity that is infinitely lower than pre-pandemic,” said LATAM’s chief financial officer, Ramiro Alfonsin.

LATAM has reported a net loss of $431 million in the first three months of this year, which executives say reflects the crushing impact the pandemic is having on the region.

Latin America has been ravaged by the coronavirus-induced COVID-19 pandemic, which has overwhelmed its weak health infrastructure; governments have also struggled to secure vaccines partly due to their high purchase costs. As a result, wealthy Latin Americans have been trying to get themselves inoculated in the United States in recent weeks when with the availability of vaccines becoming more widespread.

According to Alfonsin, LATAM passengers from Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador are flying directly to the United States, while those from Argentina are flying via Lima or Santiago.

Incidentally, the bulk of the passengers coming from Brazil are not allowed to enter the U.S. due to fears that they will spread a local variant of the virus, which experts say is more virulent.

Alfonsin went on to add, LATAM, which filed for bankruptcy restructuring in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic on travel, expects to exit its Chapter 11 process in the United States by the end of this year.

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