Latin America's Quiet Flyer

Oct 5, 2003

Relatively unknown by investors outside of its home region, LanChile is growing and profitable at a time when the world's mightiest airlines have faltered.

In the same way that British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson transformed transatlantic economy travel with superior service at Virgin Atlantic, Lanchile has raised the bar for Latin American airlines. Like Virgin, LanChile offers first-rate economy air travel, providing its passengers with personal video screens, interactive video games, lots of legroom and high-quality food. But the Chilean airline has also excelled as a business, deftly managing its operations and finances in an embattled industry worn down by successive crises since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

LanChile's pretax income tripled during the first half of this year to $29.5 million, compared to the first half of last year. "Our priority is to be profitable and to protect our investment grade rating," says Alejandro De la Fuente, LanChile's chief financial officer. LanChile may even have to make a trip to the equity capital markets. "Right now, we have postponed orders for...

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