(Adds details on revenue, seat availability forecasts)
SANTIAGO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines, Latin America's largest airline, posted a higher-than-expected third-quarter profit on Wednesday as the economies of regional markets recovered.
The company reported net income of $161 million for the July through September period, up from $5 million a year earlier. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast profit of $91 million.
Total revenue rose 5 percent year on year to $2.645 billion "due to yields improvement across all markets," LATAM said. Operating margin increased 3.2 percentage points from a year earlier to 9.2 percent.
LATAM, which is based in Santiago, maintained its operating margin guidance for the year at between 6 and 8 percent.
The company was formed through the merger of Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM in 2012.
LATAM added that ASK growth, or available seat kilometers, is expected to be 1 to 2 percent in 2017. Broken down, ASKs are expected to fall 3 percent in Brazil and grow 1 to 2 percent in domestic Spanish-speaking countries. Internationally they are seen growing 4 to 5 percent. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta, Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Chris Reese)