Coronavirus updates: Latin America’s largest airline files for US bankruptcy protection


Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 346,000 people worldwide.

Nearly 5.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 98,223 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:

5:24 a.m.: US reports over 19,000 new coronavirus cases

More than 19,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The country also reported over 500 new deaths from the disease on the same day.

The United States is, by far, the hardest-hit nation in the coronavirus pandemic. New York remains the worst-hit U.S. state, with at least 362,764 diagnosed cases and 23,488 deaths, according to the latest data from the New York State Department of Health.

3:50 a.m.: Latin America’s largest airline files for US bankruptcy protection

Latin America’s largest airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday as the travel industry reels from the impact of lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions imposed by governments around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LATAM Airlines Group said it and its affiliated companies in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the United States sought bankruptcy court protection in New York.

“The U.S. Chapter 11 financial reorganization process provides a clear and guided opportunity to work with our creditors and other stakeholders to reduce our debt, address commercial challenges that we, like others in our industry, are facing as a group,” the Santiago, Chile-based company said in a statement Tuesday. “It is very different from the concept of bankruptcy in other countries and is not a liquidation proceeding.”

LATAM Airlines CEO Roberto Alvo said the group is “committed to continuing flying.” The bankruptcy filing won’t affect efforts to return to regular operations and the company will respect its commitments with cargo customers. Travelers with existing tickets, vouchers and air miles can still use them.

“Given the impact that that COVID-19 generated crisis has had on the aviation industry, LATAM has been forced to make a series of extremely difficult decisions in the past few months,” Alvo said in a video message Tuesday. “These have been taken with the objective of ensuring the protection of the group, continuing operations and meeting commitments.”

LATAM Airlines is South America’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic. It operated around 1,300 flights per day and transported a record 74 million passengers last year, according to the company’s more recent annual report.

“We are focused on looking towards a post-COVID future and centered in our business’s transformation,” Alvo said, “so that we may adapt to a new world and a new and evolving way of flying, where the health and safety of our passengers and employees is the first priority.”

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