Lanchile Hub To Take Line To Top Among Offshore Carriers
By Michael Hayes
In a major expansion of its South Florida hub, LanChile is constructing what is destined to become the largest cargo terminal of any foreign line at Miami International Airport.
The $64 million, four-story structure is being built on 44.5 acres obtained with a 25-year lease from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department the biggest land concession to a foreign airline at any airport in the US, LanChile Airlines officials say.
Construction of the new cargo storage and office building is being financed by a Miami-Dade County bond issue.
On completion, which is expected in July 2001, the L-shaped facility being built by the Airis company of Houston will double the airline’s cargo space to almost 300,000 square feet. Another 50,000 square feet will house the Chilean carrier’s passenger sales, marketing, reservations and accounting offices, now in Kendall. When it’s ready, LanChile will move its freight facilities from buildings 705 and 706 at the airport.
The new complex will include a 60,000-square-foot refrigeration unit and a cold tunnel leading to the aircraft loading area. These amenities will accommodate LanChile’s movement of perishables such as salmon, shellfish, fruits, berries, flowers and live animals from Chile and other South American countries, airline administrators say.
The main cargo carried south from Miami, they say, is electronics.
The airline last year moved 332,000 metric tons of cargo a 41.9% increase in volume over the previous year’s level and a 35% increase in dollar terms. Cargo represented 38% of LanChile’s total 1999 revenue of $1.24 billion.
LanChile the only Latin American carrier whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: LFL) is the second largest cargo carrier at Miami International, says Martin Mosley, LanChile’s marketing director for North & Central America & Asia.
The cargo fleet, he says, has five DC-8s and three Boeing 767s, plus four leased 747s. This, Mr. Mosley said, is in addition to the belly space of all LanChile passenger aircraft, which is also used for freight.
LanChile, he said, also operates as a general sales agent for Brazilian airline TAM and American Airlines on certain routes. Under these arrangements, LanChile buys the belly space from those carriers, then sells it, Mr. Mosley said.
He said LanChile serves six countries nonstop from Miami Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Dominican Republic and Chile. That, Mr. Mosley said, is more than any other foreign airline does from anywhere in the US.
LanChile’s expansion at Miami International Airport coincides with a recently launched drive by the airlines to win recognition in both international cargo and passenger service as "one of the top 10 airlines in the world," Mr. Mosley said.
Last month Lanchile executives announced the line has placed orders for seven Airbus A340 aircraft, with options for 14 more, and 20 A320s. Already, it has one of the world’s youngest fleets in international service, executives say, with an average aircraft age of 3.8 years.
The first Airbus planes go in service this fall on the Santiago-Madrid route, Mr. Mosley said. Also, he said, LanChile just announced the addition of nonstop service from New York to Santiago and the extension of sister airline LanPeru’s service to New York beginning Oct. 7.
"And there is more to come," Mr. Mosley said.
Meanwhile, he said, the cabins on the international fleet have been modified to provide a new level of comfort for first class and business passengers.
In unveiling the enhanced on-board amenities last month, LanChile officials announced that the number of first-class seats has been reduced to just five, with two dedicated flight attendants. The seats recline completely flat and have privacy screens and an array of audio and video options, officials said.
The business class, LanChile publicists say, now contains 28 customized seats that compare to those in the previous first class, with an increase in incline to nearly flat and pitch, or the space between rows, of 56 inches.
Even head-rests, blankets, pillows and food and wine service have been upgraded. Readers of Travel & Leisure magazine named the new LanChile, originally launched in 1929, the line with the best service between North America and Latin America. The Official Airlines Guide gave LanChile a regional airline of the year award and Business Traveler International chose it as having one of the top five wine cellars in the air.