Airbus has promoted Rafael Alonso to the newly created position of President, Airbus Latin America and Caribbean Region. Alonso is responsible for all Airbus commercial activities and customer relations in more than 40 countries. Alonso will report to John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers.
With more than 30 years in the aviation industry, Alonso has been involved directly in the sale of more than 1,000 Airbus aircraft. He has spent most of his career in Latin America, having led Airbus’ presence there since the late 1980s. In 2007, Airbus established its Latin America and Caribbean offices in Miami – with Alonso leading the effort to be closer to customers.
“Airbus has become a market leader in Latin America and the Caribbean under Rafael’s steady leadership,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “In the last 10 years, Airbus has tripled its in-service fleet and delivered more than 60 percent of all aircraft operating in the region. The new position of President for Airbus in Latin America and the Caribbean reflects the importance of this region and its airlines to Airbus, and Rafael is exactly the right person for this vital job.”
A growing middle class and increased consumer spending have led to air transport becoming more accessible throughout Latin America in the past 10 years, increasing 14 percent in terms of total number of cities served. According to the 2013 Airbus Global Market Forecast, in the next 20 years, Latin American airlines will need more than 2,300 new aircraft, while intra-regional and domestic traffic is expected to rise 6.3 percent, becoming the biggest market for Latin American carriers.
Alonso began his professional career in 1981 as an engineer with The Boeing Company in Seattle. In 1983, he joined Construcciones Aeronauticas S.A. in Madrid, Spain. In 1984, Mr. Alonso was seconded to Airbus in Toulouse as regional sales manager for the Latin America region, and he was promoted to Vice President Sales for Latin America and the Caribbean four years later. Alonso was appointed Senior Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean Customer Affairs in 2001 and, in 2011, was promoted to Executive Vice President.
Airbus boosted its presence in Latin America in 1998, when LAN, TACA and TAM placed a joint order for a total of 90 single-aisle aircraft with options for a further 90. The largest contract ever signed in Latin American commercial aviation history put Airbus on the map in the region and since then, the three airlines combined have ordered more than 400 A320 Family aircraft.
A native of Spain, Alonso is fluent in English and French and has a working knowledge of Portuguese. He holds a Master’s Degree from the Polytechnic University of Aeronautical Engineers in Madrid and has completed courses in Business and Finance, mainly at the European Management Centre in Brussels, Belgium, and at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
With more than 800 Airbus aircraft sold and an additional backlog of almost 400, over 500 Airbus aircraft are currently in operation throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.