Australians will have a new option to South America from October 2017 when LATAM Airlines begins nonstop flights from Melbourne to Santiago, Chile.
The oneworld alliance member plans to serve Melbourne from its Santiago hub three times a week with Boeing 787-9s. The inaugural service is due to take off on October 5 2017 and will be the first nonstop link between Melbourne and Latin America, LATAM said in a statement on Monday.
Melbourne will be the second Australian port for Qantas codeshare partner. Currently, LATAM flies daily to Sydney via a Santiago-Auckland-Sydney routing with 787-9s, while Qantas operates nonstop four times a week between Sydney and Santiago with Boeing 747-400 equipment, with a fifth flight added during certain peak periods.
LATAM Airlines managing director for Asia Pacific Patricio Aylwin said the new Melbourne service would offer travellers more choice and greater convenience.
“By connecting Melbourne with Chile’s economic and cultural centre – and also a key gateway to the rest of Latin America – this new route will help support the growth of tourism and commerce between the two regions,” Aylwin said in a statement.
“We’re confident that passengers on both sides of the Pacific will welcome the wealth of attractions, cultures and cuisines that this service will bring even closer.”
LATAM’s 787-9s are configured with 304 seats comprising 30 lie-flat business, 54 Space + and 220 economy seats.
Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed LAN carried 7,303 passengers on its flights into Australia in September 2016 with an average load factor of 78.8 per cent. Its flights out of Australia had 7,960 passengers and an average load factor of 85.9 per cent.
The inbound figures are down slightly from an average load factor of 82.1 per cent in September 2015, while LAN’s outbound services have improved from an average load factor of 84.3 per cent in the prior year.
Tourism Australia, the Victorian state government and its tourism arm Visit Victoria will help support the new route as part of a partnership with LATAM that was also announced on Monday.
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said the LATAM’s Santiago hub would offer plenty of connection opportunities for travellers from the potentially lucrative markets such as Brazil and Argentina to visit Australia.
“As the largest airline in Latin America, transporting over 67 million passengers per year and one with a frequent flyer program with more than 20 million members, the commercial benefits of working with LATAM are huge and very exciting,” O’Sullivan said in a statement.
Aylwin added: “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.”
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival
Tuesday, Friday, Sunday
Monday, Thursday, Saturday
Source: LATAM Airlines