FIDAE: LATAM to make Brazil regional jet decision by year-end

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LATAM Airlines Group will decide on a potential regional aircraft order for its Brazilian subsidiary TAM by end-2014.

The airline has been mulling such an order to take advantage of the regional network possibilities in the Brazil market. "We are analysing what would be the right aircraft type for us," LATAM's chief executive Enrique Cueto tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the FIDAE air show in Santiago.

Cueto says the carrier is looking at all options in the market, including the Bombardier CSeries.

TAM is operating Airbus A320 family aircraft in its domestic operations, but LATAM has said smaller regional aircraft could help it serve secondary cities profitably, in the same way that Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul has been doing.

Brazil's government has said it plans to spend billions of reais on improving the country's regional airports, which Cueto believes will help boost the attractiveness of the regional market.

"Brazil has huge plans for their regional airports," he says. "These will open up many, many new cities. There is going to be a lot of new air service potential. For that service, you can use regional jets."

Cueto also points out the ongoing improvements at Brazil's main airports, such as Sao Paulo Guarulhos, which will help grow capacity at the congested airport. "With more slots and more capacity, Sao Paulo will become more relevant as an international hub," he says, adding that regional flights will help create more feed at Sao Paulo.