Aviation industry leaders at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Brasilia warn that long-term political instability could have an impact on the progress of the sector in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions.
In the past month, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador have seen strikes and violent political protests which sent millions of demonstrators into the streets. Argentina is holding a contentious national election, which could also bring unrest to that country.
Pedro Heilbron, chief executive of Copa Airlines and president of ALTA's executive committee, said on 27 October that despite the protests, which have prompted at least one airline to cancel flights, the aviation industry anticipates normalcy will return soon.
"Aviation always has to deal with all sorts of political events," Heilbron says. "I hope that the situations are temporary."
But Luis Felipe de Oliveira, the executive director and chief executive of ALTA, warns that it is integral for calm to return soon so as not to endanger the continent's long-term prospects.
"Every year we have had some crisis," de Oliveira says. "We hope these current events will be solved quickly and will not have an impact on the growth of the entire region."
In Ecuador, demonstrators were protesting austerity measures including the cancellation of fuel subsidies. In Bolivia, the demonstrations last week targeted president Evo Morales and called for greater autonomy for eastern regions. In Chile on 26 October more than a million people took to the streets of the capital, Santiago, to call for social and political change in the country.
LATAM Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights on 20-23 October after Chile's government declared a state of emergency on 19 October, covering Santiago and many other regions of the country, following widespread looting and rioting. Several people have been killed in the violence.