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Airbus in Latin America and the Caribbean

Airbus’ presence in Latin America and the Caribbean goes back more than 30 years, during which time the company has played a vital role in building and supporting the region’s dynamic aerospace market.

Airbus boosted its presence in Latin America in 1998 when Chile-based LAN Airlines, El Salvador-based TACA Airlines and Brazil-based TAM Airlines placed what was at the time the largest joint order in Latin American commercial aviation history for 90 single-aisle aircraft, with options for an additional 90. Since then, these airlines combined have ordered nearly 600 A320 Family aircraft, recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family.

With a robust and growing presence in more than two dozen countries and territories, Airbus employs approximately 1,000 people across Latin America and the Caribbean and is proud to promote local aviation professionals at its training and manufacturing centres throughout Latin America.

Commercial aircraft

With more than 1,200 aircraft sold in the region and over 650 yet to be delivered (as of the end of 2017), Airbus has become a market leader in commercial aircraft product lines in the Latin America and Caribbean market – and has secured more than 60 percent of net orders in the region since 1990. Over 650 of its aircraft were in operation during 2017 with over 20 customers and operators. Airbus has tripled the regional in-service fleet with airlines in the 10 years.

LATAM Airlines A350 XWB

LATAM Airlines Group, a result of the 2012 merger between Chile-based LAN Airlines and Brazil-based TAM Airlines, is the largest Airbus customer in the Southern Hemisphere and among the largest Airbus airline customers worldwide. In January 2016, LATAM Airlines Group began to operate the first of its 27 A350 XWB aircraft on order, becoming the initial airline in the Americas to fly the highly efficient widebody airliner. In August 2016, the group took delivery of the Americas’ first A320neo.

In 2015, Avianca Holdings S.A. inked a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 100 A320neo aircraft

Colombian airline Avianca has based its fleet modernization and expansion plans on Airbus aircraft. In 2015, the company purchased 100 A320neo jetliners in what was at the time the single largest order in Latin American aviation history. In 2012, Avianca Cargo, formerly known as Tampa Cargo, became the region’s first operator of the A330-200 freighter – a derivative of the widebody A330 passenger airliner.

Synergy Aerospace Corp, Avianca’s largest shareholder and owner of Avianca Brasil, became an Airbus customer in 2007 with its order for 10 A350 XWB widebody jetliners and also has signed a purchase agreement for 62 A320neo Family aircraft.

In addition to LATAM, Avianca and Avianca Brasil's wide-body presence, Aerolineas Argentina has a total of 15 A330 and A340 in operation and Brazil’s Azul Airlines operates seven A330-200 and will receive its first A330neo in late 2018. Other wide-body operators in the region are TAME, Avior and Surinam Airways.

Indigo Partners has finalized agreements for the purchase of 430 A320neo Family aircraft for Frontier Airlines, JetSMART, Volaris and Wizz Air

The low-cost carrier business model is rapidly growing in Latin America and includes carriers such as Viva Air, which committed to the purchase of 50 A320 Family aircraft in late 2017, and Mexico’s VivaAerobus – which in 2013 made the then-largest purchase by a Mexican airline of 52 single-aisle A320 Family aircraft. Mexico’s Volaris and Chile’s JetSMART were part of Airbus’ all-time record acquisition announcement in 2017 as they were among the four airlines covered by a Memorandum of Understanding with Indigo Partners for the combined total purchase of 430 Airbus A320 Family airliners.

With the opening of Airbus training and maintenance centres in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, Airbus is responding to its customers’ demand for training while directly supporting their growth and productivity.

LATAM Map

Helicopters

The H225 of the Argentine Coast Guard is used for search and rescue missions in the Argentinian sea

Airbus’ helicopter division has a four-decade presence in Latin America. With a fleet of more than 1,400 rotorcraft in service across the region, Airbus helicopters make up nearly a third of the operating fleet in this area of the world. The Airbus customer centre network, with bases in Mexico, Brazil and Chile, ensures continuous support to its helicopter types flying in Latin America and the Caribbean and employs approximately 1,150 people.

From the H125 single-engine rotorcraft to the multi-purpose heavyweight H225M, Airbus’ helicopters are in service with most of the continent’s military services. The highly successful Super Puma/Cougar family H225 and H215 rotorcraft, for example, are operated in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. Airbus has also supplied 10 AS565 Panthers MBe to the Mexican Navy, which became the world launch operator of this new version.

 

The H125 of the Investigations Police of Chile

In the civil sector, several rotorcraft models are used in public service and commercial activities such as medical emergency transport, airborne law enforcement, transport missions for the energy industry, and private and corporate aviation.

Operated throughout Latin America is the single-engine H125 light utility helicopter: famed for its performance in ‘high and hot’ conditions, this rotorcraft is commonly used for airborne law enforcement and diverse aerial work missions, as well as for private business aviation. The light twin-engine H145 performs police missions including support to populations affected by natural disasters and gives support to the energy/mining industry. The new super-medium H175 has been successfully deployed in the Gulf of Mexico serving the oil and gas industry.

Airbus has launched several industrial cooperation programs that have greatly contributed to the development of the region’s aviation industry. Brazil – home to a state-of-the-art engineering and design centre and final assembly lines for H125 and H225 rotorcraft – and Mexico – with a new 13,000-square metre industrial facility producing aeronautical metallic components – are good examples of the company’s active role in industrial cooperation and transfer of technology in the region.

In addition to the in-house support and services offer provided by its subsidiaries, Airbus has created an accredited network of helicopter maintenance centres in several Latin American countries, including Argentina, Guatemala, Panama and Peru. Airbus also offers initial training for technicians and pilots.

Defence

As of late 2017, Airbus had sold some 150 transport aircraft from its C212, CN235 and C295 product lines to the armed forces of 13 countries in the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Mexico is the largest operator of Airbus military transport aircraft in Latin America, with 22 airlifters flying as of late 2017, followed by Colombia and Brazil. Acquisitions by Mexico include the Mexican Navy’s (SEMAR) purchase of the latest C295 version, the C295W.

The C295W Latin America Tour

 

An Airbus C295W, the latest version of the versatile and efficient C295 tactical transport aircraft, performed a monthlong Latin America tour where a range of the aircraft’s capabilities were on display, from its hot and high performance in La Paz to its cold-weather performance in the remote and austere conditions of Antarctica. More than 46,000 kilometres were flown in approximately 100 flight hours in late 2015 as the aircraft made stops in Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Antarctica. Read less Read more

With a contract signed in the late 1970s, Chile was one of the first countries to place an order with the original CASA company – forerunner to Airbus – with the country’s orders during this long-term relationship covering the C212, CN235 and C295.

In the homeland security sector, Airbus played a key role in guaranteeing public safety during the 2014 FIFA World Cup sports competition in Brazil through a secure mobile radio communication system for professional users.

Space

PerúSAT-1 is the most advanced satellite in the region, since handover from Airbus on December 7th, 2016.

Airbus builds satellites systems that keep Latin America connected and provide space-eye views on the region for both civil and military applications.

In the Earth observation sector is PerúSAT-1 – a 430 kg.-class satellite built by Airbus for the Peruvian CONIDA space agency and delivered in a record time of less than two years. Equipped with a submetric
optical imager also designed and developed by Airbus, the satellite was developed for a wide range of applications ranging from homeland security and border monitoring to disaster management and environmental protection. The most powerful Earth observation satellite operated from Latin America, PerúSAT-1 is based on Airbus’ AstroBus-S platform, the latest generation of high-end satellites. The satellite was lofted in September 2016 by a light-lift Vega launcher operated by Arianespace.

Airbus also built the first Earth observation system ever launched for Latin America, the Chilean satellite system FaSat Charlie (Sistema Satelital para Observación de la Tierra, or SSOT). Orbited in late 2011, the satellite has exceeded its expected five-year functional life.

An example of Airbus relay platforms at the service of Latin America is SKY Brasil-1 (also known as SKYB-1), based on the company’s Eurostar E3000 platform. This high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast satellite is used by the DIRECTV Latin America subsidiary of AT&T/DIRECTTV, and offers coverage over Brazil. SKY Brasil-1 was orbited in February 2017 by a heavy-lift Ariane 5 launcher operated by Arianespace – a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, the joint venture of Airbus and Safran.

Another relay platform is SES-10, produced by Airbus for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. Launched in 2017, this Eurostar E3000-based spacecraft is used by SES to offer replacement and additional capacity for direct-to-home TV broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services to Central America and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. 

Local partners

Airbus’ approach to evolve local capabilities in the regions where it does business is illustrated by the PerúSAT-1 imaging satellite, which is part of comprehensive programme that also includes an Airbus-built ground control and image reception and processing segment in the Peruvian National Centre for Satellite Imagery Operation (CNOIS). One of the project’s goals is to develop Peru’s competence in space technologies, satellite operation and appropriate imaging applications, for which Airbus is supplying images from its fleet of optical and radar satellites.

More than 80 Peruvian specialists took part in a technology transfer program with Airbus at its Toulouse, France facilities, and in Lima. This gave Peru access to the necessary knowledge and expertise for successful independent operation and maintenance of the PerúSAT-1 systems.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Loading of relief goods onto Volaris’ latest A320neo at Airbus Toulouse

With the goal of delivering humanitarian aid after a devastating natural disaster, the Airbus Foundation and its customers regularly join forces to provide much-needed humanitarian support.

After the devastating 2017 earthquake in Mexico, the Airbus Foundation partnered with Mexican airlines Volaris and Interjet to deliver more than nine tonnes of supplies that included clothes, blankets, tents, tarps, lanterns and medical supplies.

LATAM and Azul Brazilian Airlines partnered with the Foundation in a first-of-its kind collaboration to help the victims of devastating Chilean forest fires by transporting relief supplies, and Avianca has partnered with the Foundation to help victims of mudslides in Colombia.

Goodwill flights are not the only way the Airbus Foundation provides support to nations impacted by natural disasters. After the 2017 earthquake in Mexico, the Foundation partnered with air ambulance service Angel Flight to provide helicopter emergency transport with two light helicopters of the Ecureuil family – an AS355 and an H130 – that were made available to hospitals for the transfer of the critically injured, as well as transportation of food and medicine after the quake rendered many roads impassable. In addition, Airbus Earth-observation satellite images were made available to Foundation partners through a dedicated portal to help assess damage.

Latin America's Future

Economic indicators remain strong across Latin America and the Caribbean. With well-established democracies in place, increasing urbanisation and rapidly improving infrastructure, the region’s economy is predicted to grow above the world average in the coming decades

The in-service fleet of commercial aircraft in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to more than double in the next 20 years, resulting in a need for nearly 50,000 new pilots and more than 53,000 new maintenance engineers. By 2036, the region’s current regional mega cities of Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Santiago and São Paulo will be joined by Cancún, Panama City, and Rio de Janeiro. Together, these nine megacities will account for some 150,000 long-haul passengers daily.

Airbus’ long-term prospects for the region are optimistic as the helicopter fleet is estimated to grow 65 percent over the next 20 years resulting in the need of 2,000 new helicopters. The energy sector as well as the public services and  the private transport segments are bound to be particularly dynamic with the H125, H145, H215 and H225 being very well positioned due to their excellent performance in hot and high environments and optimized operational costs. The new H160, which will enter into service next year, is already attracting interest from private customers all over the region thanks to its highly stylized design and state of the art technology.

Points of contact

Liana Sucar-Hamel

Head of Latin America Communications

Lindsy Caballero

Communications Manager, Latin America

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