Route Analysis: Sao Paulo-Los Angeles

Nonstop flights between the cities will return after an absence of three years.

Credit: Joe Pries

LATAM Airlines Group is to launch nonstop service between Sao Paulo and Los Angeles during the summer 2023 season—one of a number of network changes planned on South America-US routes following approval of the carrier’s joint venture (JV) with Delta Air Lines.

Flights between São Paulo/Guarulhos (GRU) and Los Angeles International (LAX) will operate three times per week from July 1, departing the Brazilian hub on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11.05 p.m. The return flight leaves LAX at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

LATAM intends to deploy Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the 9,910-km (5,351-nm) sector, with capacity for 410 passengers. Its entrance to the market will provide 2,274 two-way weekly seats between the destinations. There are no other nonstop flights operating between Brazil and Los Angeles at the present time.

Sao Paulo and Los Angeles were last connected in March 2020 by American Airlines, LATAM’s former partner. The US carrier offered four weekly round trips using 787-9s until the onset of the pandemic. However, flights have remained suspended ever since.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that American started serving the route in December 2013, operating year-round. Korean Air also provided fifth-freedom flights between GRU and LAX from June 2008 until September 2016.

The announcement of LATAM’s new Los Angeles route came two months after the US Transportation Department (DOT) granted final approval to the Delta-LATAM JV, enabling the carriers to offer an expansive network in the Americas.

SkyTeam member Delta acquired a 20% stake in LATAM in 2019 and the airlines applied to regulatory authorities to operate a metal-neutral, antitrust-immunized JV for flights between the US and South America. The move also saw LATAM end its partnership with American and exit the oneworld alliance.

According to Sabre Market Intelligence figures, O&D traffic between Sao Paulo and Los Angeles totaled 155,354 two-way passengers in 2019—equivalent to 209 passengers per day each way.

Looking specifically at the flow of traffic on American’s nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, 45% of passengers flew point-to-point, while 31% traveled from points behind LAX. Bridge traffic amounted to about 9% and some 15% of passengers flew to destinations beyond GRU.

The relationship between LATAM and Delta will allow the carriers to offer codeshare connecting flights at both ends of the GRU-LAX route. From Los Angeles, connections will be offered to the likes of San Francisco, Las Vegas and Seattle.

LATAM currently flies 15 nonstop routes between destinations in Latin America and the US, serving five cities in the North American country. Los Angeles is among the cities already served on routes from Lima (LIM) in Peru and Santiago (SCL) in Chile.

Alongside the new GRU-LAX route, LATAM plans to make the following changes to its US network:

  • Santiago-Los Angeles – from September 2023, the route will increase from 3X-weekly to 5X-weekly.
  • Sao Paulo-Orlando (MCO) – from August 2023, LATAM Airlines Brazil will add a fourth weekly frequency using 787-9s.
  • Lima-Miami (MIA) – from August 2023, the schedule will grow from 7 to 12X-weekly frequencies operated by LATAM Airlines Peru.
  • Lima-New York John F Kennedy (JFK) – from March 2023, 12 weekly flights will be available onboard 767s, up from seven weekly frequencies at the present time.
  • Lima-Los Angeles – from August 2023, frequencies will rise from daily to 2X-daily using a mix of 767 and 787 aircraft.

Delta recently announced an increase in frequencies between North and South America, with weekly seats growing 130% in Chile and more than 170% in Brazil this winter as Atlanta (ATL)-SCL and JFK-GRU are increased to daily service. A second daily flight is also being added on ATL-GRU, while daily ATL-Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) resumes in December until early March.

GRU-LAX

Carrier:

LATAM Airlines Group

Aircraft:

Boeing 777-300ER

Frequency:

3X-weekly

Start date:

July 1, 2023

Distance:

9,910-km (5,351-nm)

O&D traffic demand (2019):

155,354

Annual growth:

0.4%

Average base fare (2019):

$540.77