By Aaron Karp & Lori Ranson
LATAM Airlines Group and Virgin Atlantic signed a codeshare agreement that will include Virgin placing its code on LATAM’s London Heathrow (LHR)-São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) route and building on an existing interline agreement between the carriers.
LATAM passengers will be able to connect via LHR to Virgin flights destined for Delhi (DEL), Hong Kong (HKG) and Tel Aviv (TLV) among others, according to Virgin. The UK carrier will also place its code on flights from GRU to 12 airports in Brazil, including Belo Horizonte (CNF), Brasilia (BSB), Curitiba (CWB), Florianopolis (FLN), Fortaleza (FOR), Goiania (GYN), Londrina (LDB), Porto Alegre (POA), Recife (REC), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Salvador (SSA) and Vitoria (VIX).
“As we recover from the pandemic, partnerships are more important than ever, and we look forward to building on the incredibly successful interline relationship [with LATAM] we have had in place for a number of years,” Virgin chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said. “ We also see opportunities beyond Brazil and look forward to expanding our relationship even further [in the future] to serve destinations throughout South America, including [destinations in] Peru and Colombia.”
He added that “there is pent up demand for long-haul travel” and “we also expect to capture demand from corporate travel heading to São Paulo, the commercial capital of Brazil.”
Meanwhile, LATAM is expecting to operate 72% of its January 2019 capacity levels this month, but cautioned that a downward revision is possible “depending” on the trajectory of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The anticipated January capacity mark would be a slight uptick in terms of capacity restoration compared to December 2021, when Latin America’s largest airline company flew 70.1% of its December 2019 capacity. LATAM’s average December load factor was 82% across its network.
LATAM noted that Neiva (NVA), Colombia, and Loja (LOH), Ecuador, are new network points being added to the airline group’s network this month. The Santiago de Chile-based carrier will also resume seasonal service on the Santiago (SCL)-Punta del Este (PDP), Uruguay, route in January.
By the end of January, LATAM will connect 132 destinations in 18 countries.
The group’s recovery continues to occur much faster on domestic flying in the countries in which it operates, with international capacity restoration lagging.
LATAM’s Colombia operation will have the highest capacity recovery this month, reaching 109% of January 2019 levels. Broken down, domestic flying will be 162% restored while international capacity to/from Colombia will be down 29% versus January 2019.
LATAM’s Brazil operation will deploy 80% of its 2019 capacity levels during January, with 107% domestic restoration but just 54% of January 2019 international capacity deployed.
LATAM’s Chile operations will recover to 60% of 2019 capacity this month and Peru to 67%. Chile ’s domestic operations will reach 85% of January 2019 capacity levels, while international capacity will still be down 50%. LATAM’s domestic operations in Peru will be restored to 109% of 2019 levels this month, but international capacity will be restored to just 55% of January 2019 levels.
LATAM’s operations in Ecuador will reach 46% of pre-pandemic capacity levels, split between 133% restoration for domestic flying and just a 21% recovery for international capacity.