Chicago O’Hare International Airport and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) yesterday (20 February) welcomed the first freighter service by LATAM Cargo which flew in from Santiago International Airport, Chile.
LATAM will operate new freighter service from Santiago to Chicago twice weekly, operating with a Boeing 767-300 Freighter. This new service is the first regularly scheduled freighter by a South American cargo carrier, and will expedite the import of fresh seafood and other perishables to and from the City of Chicago.
LATAM becomes Chicago’s 26th cargo operator. The addition of new service will enhance Chicago’s international connectivity, and will add to the estimated $200 billion in annual trade supported by O’Hare’s cargo operations.
CDA commissioner, Jamie L. Rhee said: “Each new flight added to O’Hare enhances our leading connectivity, creating new jobs and opportunity for residents, and fueling economic impact throughout our City.
“Supported by our continued investments in our state of the art cargo campus, we are committed to increasing access for businesses worldwide to move goods in and out of Chicago-O’Hare.”
Chicago’s dynamic connectivity to Asia is key to LATAM’s strategy to support its growth in the Asian market. The airline will capitalise on one of Chile’s biggest exports, fresh caught salmon, moving them to Asia, where there is strong demand.
In addition to being the largest exporter of salmon in the region, Chile is known for its growing number of seafood shipments. LATAM will carry these and other perishables such as cherries, blueberries and asparagus; as well as pharmaceuticals and electronics from regions in South America, to Chicago and beyond.
LATAM Cargo chief executive officer, Andrés Bianchi said: “Chicago is a key gateway in the United States and an ideal connecting point to Asia.
“Our new flights to and from the city provide our customers with access to key destinations and improved transit times. As the leading carrier in South America we are committed to improving connectivity between the region and the world in order to give customers more alternatives to achieve their goals.”
The new LATAM service will support more than 30 Chicago area companies with operations in Chile, the origin of the new service and global headquarters of the airline. Chile is Illinois’ 2nd largest trading partner in South America, and exchanged over $1 billion in trade goods with the state last year.
“As the most-connected airport in the U.S., O’Hare is vital to Chicago’s booming economy,” said World Business Cargo CEO, Andrea Zopp. “This new cargo flight not only demonstrates our connectivity to the world, but will also further increase the already strong economic ties between Chicago and Chile.”
Chicago-O’Hare has in recent years experienced record setting cargo growth, supported by the City’s investments to increase capacity at O’Hare’s state-of-the-art Northeast Cargo Development.
The $220 million development has resulted in a surge in air cargo activity in recent years, with an estimated nearly 1.9 million tonnes handled by O’Hare last year alone – up by 50 per cent from before the development began.
The expansion of cargo capacity has catapulted Chicago-O’Hare’s spot as the number one airport in the Americas for cargo value, based on the $200 billion annual imports and exports handled at O’Hare.
In total, the O’Hare cargo development will deliver an additional 800,000 square feet of cargo processing space when all three phases are complete by 2021.
In 2018, Chicago reached new heights for air connectivity by becoming one of only six cities globally to have nonstop passenger air service to all six major inhabited regions of the world – Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America.
Chicago’s cargo facilities support direct trade to 45 nations from O’Hare every week. As home to one of the most connected airport systems in the world, Chicago-O’Hare also offers its carrier partners access to a major transportation hub, as home to the largest network of trucking transportation and one of the top Interstate highway junctions in the U.S.
Looking ahead, Chicago’s air connectivity will continue to grow, thanks to the City and its airline partners’ recently approved $8.5 billion plan to expand O’Hare’s terminals over the next decade.
These investments are a part of Mayor Emanuel’s O’Hare 21 vision, designed to modernize facilities, expand capacity and passenger amenities, and enable O’Hare’s future growth to better connect travelers and Chicago to other parts of the world.