In late February, 1961, a small group of former air-taxi pilots formed Transportes Aéreos Marília, S.A. (Marília Air Transport), beginning operations with a fleet of 4 Cessna 180 and a single Cessna 170.
Three years later, Orlando Ometto purchased a 50% stake in the company, soon buying the remaining 50% from the original pilot-owners who left TAM.
Around 1966, the company moved its offices to São Paulo, adding new twin-engined aircraft to the fleet, including the Piper Aztec, Piper Navajo and the Rockwell Grand Commander.
In 1971, one of the former TAM pilots, Rolim Amaro, turned back and took over the company, signing an agreement with Ometto stating that he would make the company profitable again within one year.
Amaro sold TAM’s entire fleet and purchased 10 Cessna 402, so he eventually managed to keep its promise, being given 50% of TAM’s capital.
By late 1977, Amaro completed his purchase of TAM, continuing to expand the airline, so that the fleet included 10 Fokker F27 turboprops by 1983.
In 1981, TAM reached the 1 million passengers flown mark, doubling it by 1984.
In August, 1986, the company went public. During the same year, TAM – Transportes Aéreos Regionais (KK) acquired another regional airline, VOTEC, renaming it Brasil Central Linhas Aéreas.
Four years later, the Brazilian Government lifted restrictions on operational areas of regional airlines, and Brasil Central was renamed TAM – Transportes Aéreos Meridionais, using the same color scheme of TAM (KK), but maintaining the IATA code JJ.
In 1997, the first large jets were ordered 10 A330s, 4 A319s, and 34 A320s.
During the same year, with the arrival of the first Airbus aircraft, international services were introduced, from São Paulo to Miami International Airport.
In 2000, services to Europe were inaugurated, thanks to a code share service with Air France, to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
In 2000, TAM (KK) was merged into TAM (JJ), and TAM (JJ) was renamed TAM Transportes Aéreos.
In the years to follow, new routes were added and, in 2007, a new fleet expansion plan was announced, TAM reaching over 50% of the domestic market.
In 2008,TAM Airlines, repositioning its brand, announced that it will join the Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance. Also, the airline increased its codeshare agreements with different companies, like TAP, Lufthansa, and Air Canada and maintained its agreements with LAN Chile, LAN Peru, LAN Argentina, and Pluna.
In 2010, TAM Airlines officially joined the Star Alliance network and, in conjunction with LAN, announced their intention to merge the two holding companies under a single parent company, the LATAM Airlines Group.
In 2011, LAN and TAM sign binding agreements related to the business combination of the two airlines. The two companies will continue operating under their own brands and their own operating certificates.
In 2012, LATAM Airlines Group was born as a result of the business combination between LAN and TAM, together employing over 40,000 people and serving 115 destinations in 23 countries with 280 aircraft. At the closing of the exchange offer, 99.9% of TAM shares that participated in the exchange offer agreed with the deregistration of TAM as a public company in Brazil, thus meeting the delisting condition. Together with the TAM shares committed by the TAM controlling shareholders represent 95.9% of the total shareholding of TAM. LAN and TAM continue to operate under their existing brands, with the same service and quality that characterizes both companies.
In March, 2013, LATAM Airlines has chosen oneworld as the global alliance for its airlines. With this decision, announced at a oneworld meeting held in Hong Kong, TAM Airlines, together with LAN Airlines and 11 other member airlines, will become a member of oneworld.
During the second semester of 2013, LATAM Airlines Group decided to undertake a broad fleet restructuring plan with the aim of reducing the number of models operated. For that reason, the company will phase out all of its A340s, B737s, A330s and Q400 and Q200s.
In December, 2013, LATAM Airlines Group reported consolidated operating income of US$ 235 million for fourth quarter of 2013. This represents 166% increase compared to the US$ 88.3 million operating income in fourth quarter 2012, while operating margin reached 6.9%, an increase of 4.4 % compared to 2.5% in 2012. This strong expansion in margins was driven by significant improvement in the financial results of the domestic Brazil operations and rationalization of international passenger operations.
In 2013, for the 5th year in a row, LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines received first and second place, respectively, being once again recognized as the Best Airlines in South America, according to World Airline Survey conducted yearly by Skytrax.
In February, 2014, LATAM Airlines Group announced that it reached an agreement with Aircastle to enter into sale and leaseback transactions involving eight of TAM’s Boeing 777-300ERs. The first group of four aircraft will be sold to Aircastle and leased-back early in the second quarter of 2014 for an average lease term of five years. The next group of aircraft will be purchased by Aircastle once the existing financings are repaid and will be leased-back by the Company with leases expiring in 2017 and 2018.
On March 31, 2014, TAM Airlines joined oneworld, immediately upon its exit from the Star Alliance, adding the leading carrier in Brazil – Latin America’s biggest economy and largest market for air travel demand – to the world’s leading quality global airline alliance. LAN Colombia, a part of South America’s largest airline group, LATAM Airlines Group, also joined oneworld in October, 2013. The addition of these companies will establish oneworld as the leading alliance for flights within Latin America and between the region and both Europe and the United States.
In August 2015, it was announced that the TAM Airlines, as well as LAN Airlines, would fully rebrand as LATAM, The rebranding will involve a new livery for both airlines, which will be applied on all aircraft by 2018.
In spring 2016, LATAM Airlines Group unveiled its new Indigo and Coral livery when the first aircraft were repainted (or delivered new) in the new LATAM livery.
In 2018, according to ANAC (the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil), LATAM was the second largest domestic and the largest international airline in Brazil with 32.6% of the domestic and 74.9% of the international market share in terms of passenger-kilometers flown.
In January 2019, OAG, the air travel intelligence company, released the 2019 Punctuality League report, which recognizes LATAM Airlines Group as the top airlines for on-time performance in the Mega Airlines category with 85.60% on-time performance (defined as flights that arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time using full-year data from 2018).
First deadly incident involving TAM occurred in early February, 1979, when a Bandeirante crashed near the town of Agudos, killing all 18 people on board. After a few more smaller accidents, the last and – until now – considered to be the deadliest aviation accident in Latin America, took place in mid-July, 2007, when an Airbus 320 belonging to TAM overran the runway at Congonhas-São Paulo Airport, finally crashing into a TAM Express warehouse. 198 bodies were recovered from the crash site, including victims on the ground (186 people were on board).