Last May 15, LATAM Cargo began air freight service between Miami and Antofagasta to enhance connectivity in Chile’s far north while satisfying the growing interest of its customers, particularly companies of the mining and electronics sector, who wanted to reduce transportation time from the United States to Chile. Six months after launching the twice-weekly service, LATAM has carried more than 120 tons of cargo.

Chile’s far north is a strategic region due to its major contribution to the country’s economy, consisting primarily of mining activities, which require the prompt delivery of inputs to ensure operational continuity. The city of Iquique will also benefit greatly. Located 400 kilometers north of Antofagasta, Iquique has a customs-free zone that requires a steady supply of offshore products, especially electronics, so the direct route to Miami will allow it to stock on merchandise quicker than before.

“Linking Miami and Antofagasta directly allows us to meet the needs of our customers and add a new cargo route to LATAM Cargo Group’s network, which covers more than 140 destinations in 26 countries. With this new route, we are increasing our contribution to the economic development of northern Chile,” said Gabriel Oliva, LATAM Cargo’s Commercial Director for North America, Europe and Asia.

Decentralizing our network has cut down transportation time to Antofagasta by 80%, from 5 days if the cargo arrived in Santiago, to just 1 day if the cargo is delivered directly in Region II of Antofagasta. The same reduction is seen in the cargo bound for Iquique.

These results have benefited important LATAM Cargo customers such as Finning, the world’s largest dealer of Caterpillar equipment and parts, which uses different routes of the LATAM Cargo Group’s network and opted for Antofagasta to reduce delivery time of its mining products to its end customers.

“Strategically, the airport of Antofagasta provides quicker access to our mining customers. This route is significantly more efficient because it allows us to serve them from our La Negra logistic center located just 20 kilometers from the regional capital,” commented Camilo Ponce, Foreign Trade Head of Finning Chile S.A. “Being Chile’s largest importer forces us to take advantage of every alternative to reduce our delivery time. And the Miami-Antofagasta flight is a great opportunity that we must utilize by joining the forces of Fast Air, LATAM and our forwarder Alexim.”

 Also, more and more customers from these industrial sectors have traveled to Antofagasta to ascertain the region’s potential as the gateway for their products. One of them in Komatsu. According to Elisangela Arriagada, Assistant Transportation Manager of the Japanese firm, the greatest benefit of this new direct route is that it “reduces handling and travel time between Santiago and the north of the country. The impact is very positive, as it clears congestion at our Distribution Center in Santiago and the highway, thus reducing our carbon footprint.”

Impact on import warehouses

Thanks to Antofagasta’s growing role as an alternative to bring in air cargo, other companies have had to adapt to be able to handle the cargo increase successfully. For example, the cargo warehouses of Fast Air, Chile’s largest and most complete air cargo import warehouse company with modern facilities in Santiago, Antofagasta and Punta Arenas and the only one in the region.

“Fast Air began operations in 2014 in Antofagasta, committing itself to offering a quick, safe, innovative and dedicated import service with emphasis on protecting our customers’ cargo,” said Javier Durán, CEO of Almacenes Fast Air. “Given the evident increase in cargo volumes –he added– we have invested in ground support machinery like cranes, cargo loaders, racks, etc. to allow us to maintain our high level of service.”

In the short term, the company plans to double the 12 tons it receives every week and is looking for alternatives to grow on the airport tarmac to increase the maneuvering area for the equipment that unloads the cargo.