ROUTES AMERICAS: TAM Drops London Link from Rio de Janeiro

Brazilian carrier TAM Airlines is to cancel its route between Rio de Janeiro and London Heathrow from next month, but it will temporarily resume the flight for a six week period this summer during the football World Cup in Brazil.  The airline only launched the link in August 2010 but found that it was not performing to original forecasts.

"After analysing items such as efficiency, demand and route costs, the airline chose to make the adjustment in order to drive load factors and profitability on its international routes," it said in a statement.

The three times weekly link, operated using a Boeing 767-300ER, will be suspended from March 17, 2014, but will resume between June 3, 2014 and July 19, 2014, a period when advanced bookings have been strong to meet demand from passengers flying to the World Cup. TAM plans to offer the exact same three times weekly schedule during this period.

"We want to assure passengers flying from London that they can still reach Rio de Janeiro via regular domestic flights from Sao Paulo seven days a week," said Jorge Vilches, head of LATAM's international business unit.  "We are configuring the operation in our connections centre to ensure the layover impacts as little as possible on the journey time so that passengers can enjoy the best possible flight experience."

The closure of the route marks the end of TAM's direct flights between Rio de Janeiro and Europe. Alongside the London link, the Brazilian carrier has offered direct flights from Rio de Janeiro to Frankfurt and Paris over the past two decades but ended these services ended  in August 2013.

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