Sao Paulo, Brazil-based TAM was founded in 1976 after the government created five regional carriers to cover five regions in the country. It covered parts of the Southeast and Central West regions of Brazil, which included Sao Paulo, flying 19-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprops. After going through several name changes and mergers and acquisitions, it ordered a fleet of 45 narrowbody and widebody jets from Airbus, which allowed it to launch its first flight to North America, Sao Paulo to Miami, and its first European flight, Sao Paulo to Paris Charles de Gaulle. It joined the Star Alliance in May 2010.
In January 2011, TAM signed a deal to merge with Santiago, Chile-based LAN Airlines. In August 2012, its switched from the Star Alliance to Oneworld. After the completion of the merger, the two carriers were rebranded as the LATAM Airline Group, headquartered in Santiago, with a unified livery to be completed by 2018. It operates a fleet of 320 aircraft to133 destinations in 23 countries. Its hubs are in Santiago de Chile, Lima, São Paulo (GRU) and Bogotá.
In December 2014, the board of the merged carriers unveiled a strategic plan created to help the airline grow through 2018. It included plans to add service to between four and six new regional destinations every year. It has hinted at placing an aircraft order of 18 firm and 12 options to fuel this growth, but nothing has been announced. The carrier is investing US$4.6 billion in its fleet through 2018, with orders for more than 50 new aircraft, including the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787.
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Accidents & Incidents: On September 15, 2001, a Fokker 100 operating charter Flight 9755, flying from Recife to São Paulo-Congonhas via Campinas-Viracopos, following an uncontrolled engine failure en route to Campinas had three cabin windows shattered by fragments of the engine and made an emergency landing at Belo Horizonte-Confins. One passenger was sucked out partly and held by another passenger until the aircraft landed. The passenger did not survive.
On July 17, 2007, an Airbus A320 registration PR-MBK operating Flight 3054 from Porto Alegre to São Paulo-Congonhas overran the runway while landing at Congonhas, crossed a major thoroughfare and impacted against a TAM Express warehouse. All 186 passengers and crew perished, as did 13 people on the ground.
Airline News: LATAM News
Interesting Fact: The new LATAM image was launched in 13 airports around the world, along with the launch of its integrated website, on May 5, 2016. The first three flights using aircraft with the new LATAM brand were Sao Paulo/Guarulhos-Santiago; Santiago-Lima; and Sao Paulo/Guarulhos-Brasília, all three city-pairs an important part of the merged carrier's global network. It also started selling tickets for the new São Paulo/Guarulhos-Johannesburg, South Africa, route.