Melbourne Airport welcomes direct flights from South America

Melbourne Airport welcomes direct flights from South America

LATAM Airlines will initially offer three weekly direct flights between Melbourne and Santiago, the capital of Chile and a transport hub for connections throughout South America. 

South America's leading airline LATAM has re-launched direct flights between Melbourne and Chile's capital Santiago, with the arrival of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner over the weekend putting an end to a hiatus on the route since the early days of the pandemic.

The news follows Qantas Group's (ASX: QAN) re-opening of Sydney-Santiago flights in October last year, and means Victorians won't need to travel interstate or via Auckland to make the 11,000km journey across the Pacific Ocean to Chile.

Flights will initially operate three times a week, departing Santiago on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to arrive in Melbourne the following day.

Services from Melbourne to Santiago depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, providing a direct link for passengers and Victorian exporters into Chile and beyond through LATAM’s extensive network.

LATAM crew took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony with Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus (centre left), LATAM Airlines country manager - Oceania Chris Ellis (centre,) and Victorian Tourism Minister Steve Dimopoulos.
LATAM crew took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony with Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus (centre left), LATAM Airlines country manager - Oceania Chris Ellis (centre) and Victorian Tourism Minister Steve Dimopoulos (centre right).

 

Melbourne Airport chief executive officer Lorie Argus says LATAM’s return marks two important milestones for Victoria.

"The resumption of flights to Santiago restores our direct connection to South America and brings the number of international carriers flying into Melbourne back to pre-pandemic levels,” she says.

“Prior to Covid-19 we had 36 airlines operating international flights into Melbourne Airport and returning to that number has taken hard work from our team and the Victorian Government.

“LATAM’s return takes our overall international capacity back to 97 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and by the end of the year we expect to be back at 100 per cent."

Argus says the focus will now be on working with airlines to expand their operations and explore new opportunities, so that passengers and exporters can benefit from competition and choice.

Chris Ellis, LATAM Airlines country manager - Oceania, says the airline is excited to have taken up residence again at Melbourne Airport.

“Thanks to the support of Melbourne Airport and the Victorian Government, we can now meet the strong demand for travel to South America”, he says.

“LATAM is the leading airline in South America, serving more than 144 destinations and is a global leader in sustainability."

LATAM initially opened the direct Santiago-Melbourne route in October 2017 before the pandemic forced its closure. 

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