LAN Airlines may move to direct flights between Sydney and Santiago, skipping the current Auckland stop-over, some time after the airline's new Boeing 787-9 debuts on the route in September.
The South American airline and Qantas partner could also add Melbourne and Brisbane to its Australian map, wih the smaller Boeing 787-8 shuttling passengers to Auckland and then onto Santiago.
Those are two of the possibilities opening up before LAN as it seeks a larger slice of the Australian market, even as Air New Zealand gears up to start flights to Buenos Aires at the end of the year.
“The 787-9 allows us to think of many possibilities, and a direct flight [between Sydney and Santiago] will be possible because the range on the 787-8 is not quite there," said LATAM Airlines Group managing director Asia Pacific Patricio Aylwin.
Aylwin adds that while a direct route from Sydney is under consideration, the Boeing 787 also plays into "how we configure the whole Australia network eventually, to establish other ports in Australia."
Melbourne and Brisbane are at the top of that list, Aylwin says. "We'd love to be there, with further expansion of the market, but it's not the time just yet."
When LAN's Boeing 787-9 starts flying it will carry an all-new business class cabin which will be identical to that of the Airbus A350s to be flown under the sister TAM brand by year's end to Europe and North America.
Designed by highly-regarded consulting firm Priestmangoode, the luxe business class will be a marked improvement over that of the Boeing 787-8 (below) which last week made its debut on the Sydney-Auckland-Santiago route.
David Flynn travelled to Auckland as a guest of LAN Airlines. Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT
David Flynn travelled to Auckland as a guest of LAN Airlines.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT