LanChile becomes MIA's dominant international cargo carrier
By Jonathon Gutierrez
With construction finished on its 426,000-square-foot import-export facility, LanChile airlines now occupies the largest cargo terminal of any foreign airline at Miami International Airport.
The $64 million, four-story structure was built on 44.5 acres near the airport's largest control tower under a 25-year-lease from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. A Miami-Dade County bond issue financed the building, which opened in August.
LanChile is the fourth-largest cargo carrier at the airport, after UPS, Atlas and American Airlines, said Chris Mangos, marketing director for the aviation department.
The Santiago-based airline flies to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic. It has three US hubs: New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
With the new building, LanChile's cargo space rose to 380,000 square feet, double the prior amount.
While the airline has vacated two of the four buildings it occupied at the airport, it will still use two, mainly for meetings and training. The company's marketing, passenger sales, accounting and reservations department have already moved into 45,000 square feet set aside in the new building.
In addition to the terminal expansion, the company is proceeding to add to its air fleet, said Martin Mosley, marketing director for North & Central America and Asia. The airline added two new Airbus A340s that fly the Santiago-to-Madrid route and continue to Frankfurt. Another A340 will be put into use Dec. 18, with three more on the way, he said. The company plans to add four A320 airbuses in addition to six recently purchased.
The fleet also contains 12 Boeing 767s, 19 Boeing 737s and four DC-8s. The company also leases two 747s from Atlas, which it plans to return once the 320s are operational.
LanChile plans to have 52 aircraft by the end of December, Mr. Mosley said.
Despite the drop in air travel following the Sept. 11th attacks, the company is doing well compared to other airlines, Mr. Mosley said.
"There's two opposing forces, passengers and cargo. In passengers, there's been an obvious decline in travel because people are afraid to fly," Mr. Mosley said. "But on the positive side, we've seen quite a lot of people transfer off of US carriers to fly with us."
Passenger traffic for the airline rose 6.6% in September while cargo shipments fell 11.3%.
The drop in cargo was eased somewhat because there were fewer US flights, Mr. Mosley said. With many airlines unable to carry their normal levels of cargo aboard passenger flights, LanChile received a greater proportion of cargo orders.
LanChile responded to the drop in cargo by eliminating two flights from Miami - weekly trips from Miami to Santiago were cut from nine to seven. LanChile flies non-stop to Lima, Santiago and Quito.
Mosley added that in December's busy season LanChile will add flights to Santiago from Miami, up to two or three a day.
In addition to cutting flights, the airline is combining flights and trimming some non-stop flights.
"As soon as the demand returns for a non-stop flight, we'll put it back," he said. "It's not a question of cutting flights, its more a question of matching demand to capacity and still providing service to all our passengers."