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Latin American airlines, LATAM Airlines Group S.A. (LFL - Snapshot Report), together with its subsidiaries, came out with its air traffic update yesterday for the month of December 2012 in comparison with the year-ago month.

The company’s passenger traffic in December 2012 increased 10% while capacity rose by 7.4%. Of the total, Brazilian domestic passenger traffic registered a 10.5% increase along with a capacity decline of 3.7% while non-Brazilian domestic passenger traffic recorded a 10.6% hike as capacity rose by 11.6%. In the international arena, capacity increased a whopping 15% and passenger traffic shot up 9.6%.

Considering the load factor, the airlines’ witnessed a 1.8 point increase in the month of December; with overall load factor coming to 78.2%. Passenger load factor for Brazilian operations spiked 10.5 points to 81.9% while non-Brazilian passenger load factor decreased by 0.7 points to 78.1%. International passenger load factor decreased by 3.7 points to 75.7%.

In addition to the passenger traffic statistics, LATAM also released its cargo traffic details for the month of December 2012. Cargo traffic rose 3.1% while capacity increased 5.5%. Load factor at 61.3% represented a 1.4 point decrease.

LATAM Airlines Group S.A. is one of the leading South American passenger and cargo air transportation service providers. The company was the result of the merger between LAN Airlines S.A. and TAM S.A.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter 2012 is 20 cents while that for 2012 and 2013 are 41 cents and $1.01, respectively; reflecting year-over-year decline of 56.4% for 2012 and increase of 146.9% for 2013.

LATAM Airlines Group currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) while its peer companies, Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL - Analyst Report) and GOL Linhas A (GOL - Analyst Report) bear a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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