Atlas Air is the Latin American airline association ALTA's latest associate member, joining the likes of Delta Air Lines and Iberia as partners with the organisation.

Bill Flynn, president and chief executive of the US cargo carrier, touts the region's growing role in global trade, particularly with Asia, among reasons for joining association at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Panama City.

“The South American region is an important and growing part of the global economy and an integral part of Atlas Air’s operations," he says. "We are dedicated to continuing to expand our footprint and services in the region."

Atlas' Miami International airport gateway, which serves all of its South American markets, handles more than 20,000 tonnes of freight monthly.

However, Flynn talks about growth possibilities from gateways on the continent's Pacific coast to Asia in the future, especially as trade with countries like China grows.

ALTA has in the last week also announced Mexican carrier Interjet as a full member and Lufthansa Group as a new associate member.