LATAM offered to lease up to 25 Boeing 737s from Gol, says carrier in bankruptcy

Brazilian airline, which filed a request for financial restructuring in the US, accused its rival of trying to disrupt renegotiations with its aircraft lessors

Days after Gol Linhas Aéreas filed its financial restructuring request with the US Bankruptcy Court, the so-called Chapter 11, rival LATAM Airlines reportedly sent letters to some of the Brazilian airline’s lessors offering to lease up to 25 Boeing 737s.

The situation was reported by Gol’s lawyers to the US Court, but without proof being presented.

According to them, LATAM showed interest in discussing a possible lease of 20 to 25 737 jets. However, the Chilean carrier, which has a large presence in Brazil, is not the operator of the model but of the Airbus A320 family.

The move was considered a way to make Gol’s negotiations with its creditors more difficult, especially the lessors, who own 139 of its 141 planes in the fleet.

According to the Aviation Working Group, which represents aircraft lessors, Gol has until February 24th to reach an agreement, otherwise, the owners of the Boeing 737s will be able to retrieve them and negotiate them with other customers.

Only two of the 141 Boeing 737s in the fleet belong to Gol (LunchWithaLens)

The date is equivalent to 30 days after entering into financial restructuring, following what is established by the Cape Town Convention.

United States bankruptcy legislation, however, gives a longer period of six months after filing the request for financial recovery.

To the Brazilian media, LATAM stated that “it is in permanent contact with all relevant fleet stakeholders (equipment and maintenance lessors and suppliers) as part of its business.”

Azul, LATAM and Gol in clash

Aggressive moves like this have not been uncommon among the main Brazilian carriers. In March 2019, Azul Linhas Aéreas reached an agreement with Avianca Brasil (OceanAir) to acquire part of the company, which was going through a financial crisis.

Weeks later, Gol and LATAM also entered the dispute and the impasse ended up leading Avianca to go bankrupt, opening a huge gap in the Brazilian market.

LATAM only has Airbus A320 family jets in its fleet and has never operated the Boeing 737 (Alexandro Dias/CC)

During the period in which it was under Chapter 11, LATAM was the target of an attempted purchase of the Brazilian division by Azul. The offer was rejected by the Chilean group, which managed to renegotiate its debts with creditors without giving up control of the company.

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Owner of a 38% share of air travel in Brazil, Gol has seen its shares melt day after day, with the emergence of more pessimistic data than the market expected.

In just one month, the airline’s market value plummeted by 66%.

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