World exclusive: LAN’s Enrique Cueto is smiling

At the recent ALTA Latin Airline Leaders’ Forum, where the Latin carrier CEOs gather for their annual meeting, we produced a daily paper.

Propped up against my laptop in readiness for this handover – see picture – I had a framed colour picture of our November cover. This featured none other than LAN CEO Enrique Cueto.

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Now to a man, everyone who visited our office noticed this picture, and more specifically was amazed that we had been able to snap Mr Cueto smiling!

Enrique apparently has a reputation of being a tad glum, or at least not a smiley guy.

He is certainly private, as our interview shows, and certainly a deep thinker about this industry, as the interview shows too.

One thing that did get Enrique’s attention during the Forum was a proposal that John Byerly, the US DoT’s chief air services negotiator, had brought with him in draft form to the event.

John announced this document to the audience during an Open Skies panel I moderated at the Forum which included the DoT man. Enrique’s eyes lit up at the proposal, which is all about waiving nationality restrictions.

The idea, as I understand it, is that if say Chile’s LAN bought Brazil’s GOL, the Brazilian carrier would still be able to retain its traffic rights to the USA. That is if all sides had signed up to the waiver. Under traditional bilaterals with nationality restrictions these traffic rights could be suspended, therefore making the deal less likely and interesting.

As Enrique is keen on developing cross border businesses in Latin America – eg LAN Ecuador, LAN Argentina, LAN Peru – you can see why.

I saw a hint of a smile on Enrique’s face when this proposal was aired. See, it does happen.

 

 

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