Air France is to boost frequencies on its new route between its Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport hub and Brasília International Airport in Brazil’s capital city. After just one schedule season of operation the European flag carrier is to boost the route from three to five times weekly from June 2015 after achieving average loads in excess of 80 per cent. This will represent a 66.7 per cent increase in weekly seats between the two capital cities to over 1,500 in each direction.
The SkyTeam alliance member confirmed the new route at last year’s World Routes in Las Vegas so it was appropriate that The HUB was to learn about Air France’s plan to boost frequencies at this year’s event in Chicago one year later. The service commenced on March 31, 2014 and is operated by a Boeing 777-200 equipped with 309 seats, including 35 in Business Class, 24 in Premium Economy and 250 in Economy.
“We are delighted that Air France has announced its intention to boost the frequency of its flight to Brasilia from Paris. We knew this route would be a big success and the fact that Air France has so quickly moved to boost its schedule highlights what a strong demand there is to further enhance international connectivity between Brasilia and the rest of the world,” Daniel Ketchibachian, commercial director of Inframérica told The HUB this week.
The new route marks only the sixth international route to be operated to the Brazilian capital and only the second from Europe – TAP Portugal has been serving the city from its Lisbon hub on an up to daily basis since July 2007. It also represents the first intercontinental network success since private consortium Inframérica took over the management of the airport in December 2012.
The addition of the new European connection is a key factor in Brasília International Airport’s growth strategy. Since the Inframérica Consortium took over the entire operation of the airport it has confirmed an investment of more than R$2.8 billion in modernising and expanding the airport, with major improvements already underway and due to be delivered before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The objective is to create the most modern airport in Brazil, promote the region, and create the best connection gateway to serve the wider Brazilian market.
This offering has played its part in securing the new Air France service as the European carrier will offer onward flight options from Brasília to over twenty destinations in Brazil, thanks to a codeshare agreement with local low-cost carrier Gol, with which Air France has been developing a strategic partnership since 2009.
The airport is adopting a hub strategy and believes the location of Brasília, in the centre of Brazil, is a better location for local passengers connecting to Europe and other Central & North America destinations with connecting journeys significantly reduced through Brasília versus alternative transit points further south in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
Being the geographic centre of the country, flights from Brasília to anywhere in Brazil take about two hours. ”Brasília offers reduced itineraries to international passengers accessing the northern, central and eastern regions of Brazil, reducing by as much as five hours travel time versus connection down south,” explained Ketchibachian. ”In addition to the geographic advantage, the terminal infrastructure and processes were enhanced at the airport to enable a minimum connect time of 45 mins and smooth operations for airlines benefiting from no congestion, and no slot constraints.”
According to MIDT data, an estimated 5.10 million bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Europe and Brazil in 2013. Approximately 150,000 began or ended their journeys in Brasília. Many of these passengers are now taking advantage of the new direct connection, having previously had to connect via other locations (the largest flows with TAP Portugal via Lisbon or TAM Airlines via Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro), while the non-stop offering has also further stimulated the market.
Our analysis of data for the first five months of Air France’s operation (April – August 2014), below, shows around 27,000 passengers flew on the route, with local traffic accounting for around 28 per cent of this demand. An estimated 46 per cent of traffic was from behind Paris (largest markets being London, Rome and Barcelona), around eleven per cent beyond Brasilia (largest markets being Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Goiania), while the remaining 15 per cent used the service as a bridge between European and Brazil, the largest flows being between Brussels and Goiania, Barcelona and Iguassu Falls, Rome and Goiania, and Dublin and Belo Horizonte.
The new link to Paris had been secured through the support of Routes’ own consultancy, ASM (Airport Strategy & Marketing Ltd), which was hired by Inframérica in 2013 as part of a larger initiative to increase flights and destinations from Brasília. The renowned route development consultants are providing strategic advice, business case development and hands-on network development support for the implementation of Brasília International Airport strategy.