LATAM sees potential in Australian-South American market

By David Flynn, December 8 2016
LATAM sees potential in Australian-South American market

Next year's start of direct flights between Melbourne and Santiago is another measured step by LATAM to tap into the "trade and tourism" flow between Australian andSouth American.

Melbourne is only LATAM's second Australian destination, "but there's a lot of potential in Australia as point of origin and also a destination (for South Americans)," says Patricio Aylwin, managing director of Asia Pacific for LATAM.

"Australia is has enough big cities like Melbourne which have probably been under-served so they can give us capacity, whether through direct or indirect flights," Aylwin tells Australian Business Traveller

While the Sydney-Santiago route involves a stop-over at Auckland, its southern sibling will run as a direct service: a decision which Aylwin says "just made more sense from all perspectives."

"We wanted to provide direct access to Melbourne and we didn’t want to extend even more capacity to Auckland."

Aylwin admits that there is "always" the possibility for Sydney-Santiago to shift to a non-stop service, despite the accidental side-effect it's had in become one of the better-value options for trans-Tasman business travellers. 

Read: The best business class seats flying between Sydney and Auckland

However, both Sydney and Melbourne are likely to retain LATAM's Boeing 787-9 jets rather than shift to the new Airbus A350s which are "mainly flying from Brazil to the US and Europe," Aylwin says.

"The A350's performance has been very good, it's everything we expected from that aircraft, but I think the Boeing 787 is probably a better fit for Sydney and Melbourne."

To Santiago and beyond...

And despite the 7pm arrival of the 13-hour flight from Melbourne into Santiago, Aylwin expects many passengers will still hop straight onto connecting flights from Santiago to other South American cities on LATAM's extensive network – although "we are fine-tuning our schedule so people can connect even better than they could today."

"There are connections to all the major cities" from Santiago through the late evening "and we are considering connecting traffic for sure. This is not just a point-to-point flight, we know connectivity into the rest of South America is extremely important."

 "Yes, there will be late arrival into cities such as Argentina, Peru and Brazil, but we think most passengers will want to continue on and arrive at their final destination as quickly as possible."


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 79

I agree that there is a lot of untapped potential for tourism between the two continents. However, governments need to do their part to encourage tourism by removing red-tap and fees. Currently Australians pay $117US on arrival to enter Santiago (valid for 90 days). Australians pay $100US to enter Argentina (paid online and valid for a year). For Brazil, Australians need to organise a Visa prior to arrival. As a Melbournian, this means sending a passport to Canberra (a process that takes about 2-3 weeks and costs about $250). The process is excruciating, inconvenient, and a complete disincentive to visit Brazil. This visa is valid for 90 days (incidentally, Brazilian can organise a tourist visa for Australia online which is not only valid for a year, but half the price).

I wonder how much influence a company like LATAM has on government policy and whether than can lobby for these fees to be abolished?

In reference to the 7-8pm arrival time into Santiago, yes I agree that most passengers would prefer to connect straight onto flights to Brazil, Peru, Argentina, etc. But I am sorry, I don't want to arrive into Sao Paulo at 1am. In the passed 18 months I've flown into Sao Paulo 5 times from Santiago, once from Buenos Aires, once from Madrid, and 10-15 times on domestic flights. It is a big intimidating, overwhelming, and dangerous city and it is not a city I want to be arriving into in the early hours of the morning (especially when you are jetlagged after 20 hours of flying).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 124

The fees are reciprocal. Unless the AU govt. waives the visa requirement for those countries, they won't be going away. Plus, believe as an immigrant on a work visa in this country, those fees are a fraction of what some people need to pay and do to enter Australia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 79

I was talking specifically about tourists which would make up the highest % of travellers flying between the two continents.  
Firstly, Australians are charged $117US to enter Santiago (valid for 3 months), while the typical South American is charged $135AU for a tourist visit (valid for 12 months). In other words it can cost up to four times for an Australian to enter Chile (if entering multiple times over a 12 month period).

Secondly, it may be reciprocal, but that doesn't mean it is good policy. There is one noticeable difference between Australia and Santiago. The majority of South Americans flying to Australia are flying to Australia specifically to visit Australia. Therefore the visa charge averages out over the course of a stay.

While many Australians travel to Chile as a destination, many also use Santiago as a transit city to other South American destinations. In other words there is the option for Australians to spend a couple of nights in Santiago on the way to another South American country - but it is entirely discretionary. In my case I have visited Santiago several times and would gladly have a 2-3 night stop over, but the $117US fee is a turn off. It is not a huge amount of money in the scheme of an entire trip, but it is dead money (you get nothing in return for it). I would much rather spend this money on a hotel or food at my main destination. And that is the crux of the issue.... remove the fee and I will spend 2-3 nights in Santiago. Keep the fee and I will bypass Santiago altogether.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 178

Having lived in São Paulo, while I wouldn't care about arriving late, I could see how most people wouldn't like the idea. That being said most business travellers will just go and deal with it. Most leisure travellers will travel to Rio first which in past experience is better set up for tourists, however it is four years since I last went there. 

On LATAM's plans, I'm quite happy to have further competition on the route. I have been preferring AIr NZ's flights out of BA due to the lure of a stop over there however I could be tempted to go through a Chile again. The problem is the visa fee. The Argentinean one lasts for a year while the Hilean is too short a  period. Plus I'm happy to pay to stop over in BA as it is one of my favourite cities in the world, while Santiago is nice, it's not a priority.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 117

Late arrival (or early departure) in many parts of South America is a very good thing as it allows one to avoid the worst of the traffic. The GRU-SCL-SYD connection with Qantas is very well timed to allows passengers to be on the road to the airport before Sao Paulo wakes up.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jul 2015

Total posts 40

Looking at the One World site and with the direct MEL flight arriving in SCL at 7pm, am I right in saying you only have one option to go on to GRU at 2030? If this flight was delayed, you'd hate to miss that and overnight in SCL.


02 May 2016

Total posts 62

I applied for a Brazil visa recently and while the process is slow, it is a 5 year visa, agree all the reciprocity fees need to be looked at to truly drive tourism in South America for Australians.....I visited SCL 4 times in the past 18 months on business and had to pay the US$117 I think 3 times, as the 90 day period had expired,so it adds up even for business travelers 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 9

Congratulations Latam on expanding services to Oceania!   We have come a very long way from the original SCL-IPC-PPT flights four decades ago! and AR's pioneering EZE-RGL-AKL flights of the early eighties!!  Wonder why Latam is not taking advantage of it's "dual nationality" and offer through service MEL-SCL-GRU..?

09 Dec 2016

Total posts 1

I personally think this is a very bold move by LATAM to consolidate its position through this ocean bridge that is the South Pacific link between Oceania and South America. TBH the reciprocity fees wont matter in the long term because what LATAM has done is expand the market which may make this connection even more competitive which may result in attractive prices as demand increases. What will truly benefit this expansion to Australia is that Santiago Airport has now begun to expand and upgrade itself under the management of Vinci Airports from France, who built and manages Charles De Gaulle in Paris. Particular for business travellers, Santiago will become a fantastic gateway for those choosing to land at a first class brand new and updated airport flying on very young Boeing 789's, and i can imagine them exploring even newer aircraft in future... they can potentially add the A350's to the mix. Qantas needs to get its Dreamliner in time for Santiago's Airport update...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Dec 2016

Total posts 2

With this flight from MEL, it will mean emigrating at PER both directions. Coming back, bags will have to be rechecked to the domestic flight same as you would with Sydney international connections. This is a hassle, as you are red eyed already, and have to go through customs, wait for your bags, put them on a trolley, walk to domestic.... Great. 

One more thing. To make the mid morning flight to LHR from PER, means the MEL departure time at a guess will be between 6 and 7 am.

The bar is not even open, just wonderful!

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