Delta Air Lines, LATAM Aircraft Hit by Gunfire in Chile

Two Delta Air Lines and LATAM aircraft were hit by a flurry of gunfire during an attempted heist at Chile's SCL.



March 9, 2023

DALLAS – Yesterday, two Delta Air Lines (DL) and LATAM (LA) aircraft were hit by a flurry of gunfire during an attempted heist at Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, the capital of Chile.

The gunfire exchange between the criminals and airport security officers occurred amid a cash transfer from the aircraft to an armored truck.

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group aircraft parked next to each other at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo: LATAM Airlines Group
Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group aircraft. Photo: LATAM Airlines Group

Money Heist at an Airport

According to the videos shared by some users on Twitter, the footage shows DL and LA planes riddled with bullets. The A350 belonging to DL had taken bullets on its vertical fin. The cargo compartment of the LA aircraft showed similar damage.

According to local media, a US$32.5m cash consignment was being loaded on the armored truck when a group of ten individuals approached the site of the cash exchange. In response, SCL security officers offered strong resistance, unloading their guns at the perps.

One of the 10 perpetrators and a security officer lost their lives during the attempted heist. The other nine fled the scene and ditched the escape vehicle, which authorities found burned nearby.

The report states that the money being moved at the airport was set to be dispersed to various banks.

A person at the airport recorded some video during the incident, the firing can be heard, and aircraft are damaged. Luckily, no staff or passengers other than the robber and security officer were injured.

The DL Airbus A350-900 damaged by the shootout is four years old, and initially was part of LA's fleet, then of that of Qatar Airways (QR), then back to LA, and finally to DL.

By Christer T Johansson - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport | Photo: By Christer T Johansson - Own work, CC BY 3.0

Official Comments

As cited by Skynews, the authority commented on the incident. Manuel Monsalve, the interior sub-secretary, stated, They had tried to steal US$32.5m (£27.4m) in cash onboard a LATAM Airlines aircraft that was being transferred to an armored truck."

He further added, "The brave action by the DGAC officials frustrated the robbery," and he also noted that the apparent aggressors were "highly organized" and "well-armed."

The DGAC chief Raul Jorquera also opened up and said, "there was no risk to passengers... The tried theft will certainly lead us to modify procedures, protocols that must be improved… it forces us to reanalyze many things."

A DL representative told Newsweek that, "Our hearts go out to the loved ones of those impacted by today's sad events at Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, and Delta will work closely with all aviation stakeholders as these events are investigated. Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and our people."

This is not the first unlawful interference at SCL. There have been attempts to steal millions of dollars from a warehouse inside the airport.

Feature Image: N501DN Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-900 AMS EHAM. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways