Latin America's largest airline announced on Wednesday that it is indefinitely ceasing operations at its Argentine subsidiary due to the financial hardship provoked by the coronavirus pandemic.
LATAM said in a statement the move was "because with the current conditions of the local industry, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a sustainable projected is not considered viable."
The Argentine subsidiary has been in operation for 15 years but its 12 domestic routes have been shut down by the virus, while four international destinations are operated by other LATAM subsidiaries. Both passenger and cargo flights would be halted, the company said.
Destinations covered by cargo flights include Buenos Aires, Iguazú, Bariloche, Salta, Tucumán, Mendoza, Córdoba, Neuquén, Comodoro Rivadavia, Río Gallegos, El Calafate and Ushuaia.
"It's an unfortunate but inevitable news. LATAM must now focus on transforming the group to adapt to post COVID-19 aviation," CEO Roberto Alvo said.
Chilean-Brazilian LATAM is in crisis due to the border closures and measures put in place by South American countries to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Last month it filed for bankruptcy in the US having scaled back operations by 95 percent in April.
LATAM was formed in 2012 from a merger between Chilean airline LAN and Brazilians TAM.
Before the pandemic it served 145 destinations in 26 countries, employing 42,000 people and operating 1,400 flights a day, transporting 74 million passengers a year.
At least 1,700 employees work at the firm's Argentine subsidiary. Their future has not yet been discussed.
LATAM said that it would soon release details "through its official channels" regarding refunds of tickets. Domestic flights purchased with a credit card would be automatically refunded within 45 days. Passengers with tickets are encouraged to visit latam.com/administratuviaje to learn more.