(Adds comments on currency exposure)
SANTIAGO, March 27 Results at LATAM Airlines
, the region's biggest airline, will improve this
year versus 2013, its chief executive officer said on Thursday.
"The difficult thing with the final numbers is that there is
a tax issue, so I prefer not to speak about that," CEO Enrique
Cueto said at an International Air Transport Association
conference in Santiago. He was responding to a question about
the likelihood of the company making a profit in 2014.
"But we are going to improve, compared to 2013, and that's
the important thing," Cueto said.
The airline, formed when Chilean flagship LAN took over
Brazil's TAM in 2012, recorded a net loss of $281 million in
In Brazil, the airline is improving margins by cutting
capacity and jobs, but has faced a slowing economy and a
depreciation in the real currency.
The airline is cutting its exposure to the real via forward
contracts and by increasing its dollar income, and was confident
it was now covered, Cueto said on Thursday.
"The real has been behaving well and we hope that will
continue. If not, the industry will have to get used to it. But
for now we are calm and well-covered," he said.
The company expects its real balance sheet exposure to be
reduced to about $500 million by June versus $2 billion in
December 2013, it said earlier this month.
LAN shares rose 0.8 percent in local trading, and 1.6
percent in U.S. trading.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien;
Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)