LATAM Airlines Group is to introduce the first non-stop link between Latin America and Melbourne when it launches services to the Australian city from Santiago in Chile. The flight will be the longest ever flown by the carrier - or its predecessors - and will complement its existing service between Santiago and Sydney, which operates via Auckland, New Zealand.
The three times weekly flight will commence from October 5, 2017 and will meet the increasing demand for both business and leisure travel between South America and Australia. Over the first ten months of 2016 passenger demand in this market is up an estimated 27.7 per cent versus the same period in 2015, according to demand data from the AirVision Marketing Intelligence tool from Sabre Airline Solutions.
The direct Santiago – Melbourne offer is made possible by the efficiency and range of new generation airliners and it is unlikely it would have been considered as a sustainable city pair with previous equipment. It will be flown using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner which in LATAM configuration has just over 300 seats – 220 in Economy, 54 in Space + (a Premium Economy offer) and 30 in Premium Business.
“We are pleased to close this year with the announcement of such a significant new international service, which will also become the longest flight in LATAM’s history,” said Enrique Cueto, chief executive officer, LATAM Airlines Group.
LATAM currently operates seven flights per week from Santiago to Sydney (via Auckland, New Zealand). In September 2015, the airline introduced the Boeing 787-9 aircraft to this route, increasing capacity by 27 per cent in the process. In total, LATAM transports approximately 190,000 passengers per year between Latin America and Oceania and expects to grow this total by around 75,000 per year with the new flight.
“Over recent years, we’ve seen increasing demand for flights between Latin America and this part of the world – both from business and leisure travellers – and we want to continue supporting the growth of bilateral tourism and commerce. With the Melbourne service, we are not only reinforcing LATAM’s commitment to Oceania and the Asia-Pacific, but also to offering unrivalled connectivity to, from and within Latin America," added Cueto.
The connecting passenger flows at either end of the route will be key to the success of this route. The local demand between Santiago and Melbourne is around 16,000 bi-directional O&D passengers per year, but when you expand to Chile to Australia that grows five-fold to around 100,000 passengers and up to 585,000 passengers when you consider the whole of Central and South America and the Pacific region.
The non-stop flight will deliver some stimulation to the local market which currently generally flies via Sydney and Auckland, but will also support onward connections from Melbourne to cities throughout Australia including Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth as well as to destinations across Asia ranging from the metropolises of Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing to the tourist capitals of Bangkok and Bali via LATAM’s oneworld partners. Likewise, LATAM’s own network will serve 124 destinations throughout Chile and Latin America, including direct services to major cities such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogota and Quito.
LATAM has also signed an agreement with Tourism Australia and the Victoria Government to further boost tourism and trade between Australia and Latin America as well as increase its brand awareness. The partnership aims to promote both leisure and business tourism between Australia and Latin America.
“LATAM Airlines recognises the importance of working closely with Visit Victoria and Tourism Australia not only to promote its forthcoming new route, but also tourism and trade opportunities between Latin America and Australia,” said Patricio Aylwin, managing director Asia Pacific, LATAM Airlines Group.
“As Latin America’s largest airline group, LATAM has an important role to play in providing greater accessibility between Latin America and Australia. Together with these industry partners, we will be able to create even greater opportunities to increase the number of Latin American tourists and business travellers flying to Australia with us,” he added.
LATAM earlier this quarter became the only Latin American carrier to operate flights between the Latin American region and the African continent when it launched flights between Sao Paulo in Brazil and Johannesburg in South Africa. The three times weekly link was inaugurated at the start of October 2016 and is being flown using a Boeing 767 with 191 seats in Economy and 30 in Premium Business.
The carrier expects to fly more than 50,000 passengers per year on the São Paulo-Johannesburg-São Paulo route, supported by connection options throughout South America including Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires and other Brazilian cities.