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imageSANTIAGO: Latin America's largest airline, Chilean-Brazilian firm Latam, said Thursday it had turned its first profit in five years in 2016 thanks to an uptick in Brazil.

The company registered $69.2 million in profits, "achieving a positive result for the first time since 2011," it said in a statement.

That was despite a 5.9 percent drop in sales, to $9.5 billion.

"2016 was a challenging year for Latam, with a deterioration of the region's economies and a recession in Brazil, depreciated currencies and high inflation rates in certain countries," it said.

But Latam said operating margins in Brazil, its main market, improved late in the year, as the struggling South American giant began to show signs of recovery.

Latam, which is also 10-percent owned by Qatar Airlines since late last year, has 318 planes and serves 140 destinations in 24 countries.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2017

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