By João Machado
LATAM Resumes Flights from São Paulo to Paris, Bogotá
After another wave of flight restrictions to most countries regarding passengers arriving from Brazil, international flights from the South American country finally start to be rolled out again as the worst of the nation’s second wave of Covid-19 has passed.
Regarding this, LATAM Brasil has announced it is restarting flights connecting the country to Bogotá and Paris. The flights have already been restarted, leaving from the airline’s hub in São Paulo with three weekly flights to each destination.
While domestic capacity in Brazil is rebounding strongly, with LATAM reaching 75% of pre-Covid-19 numbers in July, international figures are still very much lagging behind and surrounding the numbers seen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In July, LATAM Brasil’s international capacity reached 20% of pre-pandemic numbers.
“Bogotá is an important destination for the airline since it connects a good part of LATAM’s domestic network in the country,” the airline said in a press release regarding the resumption of flights to Bogotá. LATAM Airlines Group operates a branch in Colombia. “With the resumed frequency, Bogotá generates connections to destinations such as San Andrés, Cartagena and Miami — though with the necessity of quarantining in the country.”
The flight from São Paulo to Bogotá is currently being operated on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays with the Airbus A320neo. LATAM Brasil currently operates three units of the latest generation of the Airbus narrowbody family. The aircraft is configured for 174 seats in a single cabin, and the operation will compete with Avianca’s daily run to São Paulo, also operated by the A320neo.
On the other hand, LATAM’s operations to Paris will leave the Brazilian airport on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, returning from France the following day, and will be operated by LATAM Chile’s Boeing 787-8, which leave from Santiago, Chile. The aircraft is configured to carry 30 passengers in Premium Business class and 217 customers in Economy.
Especially since the pandemic started, LATAM has been operating this kind of flight from Brazil much more frequently, using Chilean aircraft with Chilean crews, originally leaving from Santiago. Although the airline group uses the strategy as a way of reducing costs, it did generate some attrition with the local union of cabin crews, which complained about the fact — and used the halt of such flights as a condition for passing any new deals — while discussing permanent wage reductions. Ultimately, such reductions were rejected.
In any case, the LATAM Airlines Group’s expectations about international travel in Brazil could not be much worse, despite a vaccination campaign that is speeding up. Back in March, at the height of the second wave of Covid-19, the CEO of LATAM Brasil Jerome Cadier told Folha de São Paulo newspaper that he thought “Brazil will be one of the last countries to manage [to have border freedom].”