LATAM Airlines to lay off 1,400 as coronavirus impact hurts region's carriers

FILE PHOTO: Airplanes belonging to LATAM Airlines (previously named Lan Airlines) are seen at the International Airport during an indefinite strike of the Cabin Crew Union of LAN Express, a subsidiary of the Chile-based LATAM Airlines group, in Santiago, Chile April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines Group LTM.SN, the region's largest carrier, will lay off 1,400 employees, the company said on Friday, marking the first instance of a major Latin American airline laying off staff because of the coronavirus crisis.

LATAM confirmed the layoffs, representing about 3% of the company’s workforce, after Reuters reported on an internal video that was sent to employees.

“Unfortunately, we have concluded that we have no other option but to downsize the company,” CEO Roberto Alvo said in the video.

LATAM is the first airline to announce layoffs in the region, although several others are not paying employees but have not formally let them go.

Brazil's No. 3 airline Azul SA AZUL.N has 78% of its employees on unpaid leave. Larger rivals Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes GOLL4.SA and Avianca Holdings AVT_p.CN have about half of their employees unpaid.

LATAM had already slashed the wages of its 43,000 employees in half.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero in Santiago; editing by Grant McCool