LAN Airlines 767. Courtesy, Boeing

Chile's LAN Airlines posted 2011 net income of $320.2 million, down 23.7% from a net profit of $419.7 million in 2010. Operating income decreased by 13.4% to $539.7 million while operating margin slid 4.3 points to 9.4%.

Higher fuel prices, the impact of starting up LAN Colombia (ATW Daily News, Dec. 6, 2011) and the volcanic ash cloud that disrupted air traffic in Argentina and Chile were cited as the main causes of the net income dip.

Fourth-quarter net income declined 31.6% compared to the 2010 December quarter to $112.5 million. Quarterly operating revenue rose 17.9% to $1.54 billion.

For the full year, overall ASKs were up 13.7%. Domestic passenger traffic grew 23.7% and international passenger traffic increased 12.6%. Cargo revenue rose 23.1% as airfreight traffic increased by 11.5%.

LAN Group boarded 17.2 million passengers last year and transported 780,000 tonnes of cargo. For 2012, LAN expects ASKs to grow between 12% and 14%, driven mainly by 13 new aircraft joining the fleet. Cargo ATKs may grow between 7% and 9% as two Boeing 777Fs enter operations in the second half of the year (ATW Daily News, Nov. 6, 2007). Twelve Airbus A320 family aircraft (ATW Daily News, Dec. 22, 2010), nine 767-300ERs (ATW Daily News, May 12, 2011) and two 787-8s are scheduled to join fleet this year, while three 737-700s on lease are scheduled to be returned. 

LAN continues to move forward with its planned merger with Brazil's TAM under LATAM Airlines Group (ATW Daily News, Dec. 23, 2011). The combination is expected to be finalized by the end of March. Within the first year after completion of the transaction, pre-tax synergies may reach $170 million-$200 million (ATW Daily News, Jan. 16).