Enrique Cueto leaves the post of CEO of Latam after 25 years | Business Opening


By M. Espinosa and D. Vizcarra

Enrique Cueto, CEO of LATAM Airlines and a key man in the development of this company for 25 years, announced yesterday his decision to leave office, a step that will be effective in March next year.

The company indicated that this process was previously informed to the Commission for the Financial Market (CMF) on November 6, 2018, when they sent an essential fact of a "reserved" nature where they communicated the intention of the board of directors of start a selection period for an eventual departure of Enrique Cueto from the company.

In his replacement the current commercial vice president Roberto Alvo was appointed, an appointment that was approved unanimously by the board. Latam explained in a statement that this appointment was finalized after a planned succession process that began last year and that included external and internal candidates.

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Latam explained that Alvo's designation took into consideration his 18 years of experience in the company, "successfully occupying different positions in finance, fleet, planning, and in recent years, leading the commercial area."

The departure of Enrique Cueto will be effective as of March 31, 2020, when Alvo will join his new duties.

The president of Latam, Ignacio Cueto, said that "this announcement is made in an environment of solidity and stability." In his opinion, the firm's robustness is demonstrated with its leadership in connectivity from the region to the world, where last year they had 32 international destinations in 26 countries. This means that on average, there are 192 regional flights and 75 long-distance flights per day.

In addition, he explained that these attributes are accompanied by a financial strategy to improve the margins of the operation, which has worked.

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Executive Battles

Enrique Cueto has been a key player in the development of the airline in private hands, when his family – together with the Hirmas, Eblen and Sebastián Piñera groups – took control of the company in 1994. From that milestone, the company consolidated its presence as the largest national operator and initiated the internationalization process that made it one of the largest airlines in the region, the placement of shares in the New York Stock Exchange and the change of name to Lan Airlines, all processes that Enrique Cueto led from the position of executive vice president.

The great play in the Latin American expansion took place in 2012 with the merger of Lan with the Brazilian Tam-linked to the Amaro family-, which gave way to the current Latam.

For seven years so far, Enrique Cueto held the executive vice presidency of the merged company. In parallel, his brother Ignacio assumed the presidency of Latam Airlines in 2017 replacing Mauricio Amaro.

After the announcement of Enrique Cueto's departure, The question will be whether he will continue to occupy a role in the company, which faces challenges such as the implementation of the Joint Bussines Agreement (JBA) after its rejection in Chile.

The milestones of the entrepreneur at the helm of the company

  • In 1982, the recently graduated commercial engineer, Enrique Cueto, a small cargo airline founded by his father, Juan Cueto Sierra, joined Fast Air Carrier.
  • 1983, he took over the vice presidency of finance, since he held for a short time before moving to the executive vice presidency, where he remained a decade.
  • In 1994, he acceded to the property of Lan assumed as general manager and executive vice president or CEO of Lan Chile.
  • 2000 part of the company's expansion period by successively opening local domestic markets in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina.
  • In 2010, the businessman announced the possible merger of Tam – a firm linked to the Amaro family – and Lan.
  • 2012 was the year that Lan got permission to join his competitor and enters Brazil, one of the most coveted markets in the region.
  • In 2014, Latam announces new growth worldwide, and agrees with American Airlines and the IAG Group, the Joint Business Agreement (JBA).
  • 2018, the Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC), gave the green light to the operation.
  • 2019, the Supreme Court denied them to specify the JBAs, after the appeal raised by the Achet, arguing negative effects in free competition.

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