Airbus Latin America

In My Perspective

I was just thinking the other day.

More Articles April 2011

I was just thinking the other day.

I was just thinking the other day that 13 years ago, a breakthrough in Latin America’s aviation market occurred. On March 18, 1998, LAN, TACA and TAM placed a joint order for a total of 90 single-aisle Airbus aircraft.

The order, known to many as the “three amigos deal,” was the first time in Latin America and possibly in the world when more than one airline came together to decide on their future fleet. In the process they managed to change the face of aviation in the region forever by putting Latin American airlines on the map. It was this visionary and bold move in 1998 that also set the landscape we are living today - - Latin American airlines giving their American and European counterparts a pretty serious run for their money.

To this day, it was the largest contract ever signed in Latin American commercial aviation history, and it paved the way for LAN, TACA and TAM to order another 300 Airbus aircraft, making up more than half of the region’s Airbus aircraft in operation today.

So much has happened since then. TACA merged with Avianca, while LAN and TAM are in the process of merging. Many airlines have come and gone too.

We've also suffered the tragic loss of two of the original players--TAM’s founder Rolim Amaro and TACA’s Federico Bloch. Both were key to building two of the most flourishing airlines in operation today, while leaving behind a legacy of growth and success that would surely make them proud.

In the 13 years to follow this historic order, Airbus in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown too. Since then we have gone from having a very small share of the region, to almost 50 percent of the market today. We’ve established a growing Customer Affairs office in Miami. Our Sales team has enthusiastically integrated themselves into the region and passionately identify themselves with the culture and traditions that make our part of the world so very special.

Here’s to the next 13 years of Airbus in Latin America, and the many more after that.


With more than 30 years in the aviation industry, Rafael Alonso is the Senior Vice President of Airbus Customer Affairs for the Latin America and the Caribbean region, responsible for all Airbus commercial activities and customer relations in more than 40 countries.