LATAM have become somewhat of a juggernaut in South America what with the merger of two giant conglomerates in LAN and TAM – and oneworld have also become the de-facto alliance of South America with the two merging and with American Airlines’ strong presence in the market. Skyteam and Star Alliance are a joke compared to oneworld in this market, what with Qantas also operating scheduled flights to Santiago De Chile (SCL) and Buenos Aires (EZE).
Well, now the monopoly is about to get stronger.
LATAM has announced that the airline will be commencing new flights from Santiago to Melbourne, Australia – marking the first time the two cities have been connected nonstop – indeed this is the first time that Melbourne will be connected to South America full stop. Operations are slated to begin from October 5, 2017.
The flight will complement fellow oneworld partner Qantas’ flights from Sydney, and in what is a significant development for the airline, will be operated nonstop (LATAM flies to Sydney as well but via Auckland).
The flight will be operated three times weekly and will be operated by the airline’s newly delivered 787-9 aircraft that features 30 180 degree flat beds in Business Class, 54 seats in Premium Economy and 220 in Economy class in a 3-3-3 layout (a bit tight for such a long flight in our opinion!).
While the airline hasn’t released seats for booking on their official website as yet, here’s what the official schedule looks like off the travel agent GDS booking system:
LA 805 Santiago (SCL) Dep 1255 – Arr 1755+1 Melbourne (MEL) Mon/Thu/Sat
LA 804 Melbourne MEL Dep1955 – Arr 1900 Santiago (SCL) Tue/Fri/Sun
So it’s a great move on the part of LATAM and indeed oneworld in general to fill in a void in an already decidedly solid network in South America and Australia. What with Qantas already on the Santiago-Sydney route, this is new route to Melbourne is a great compliment. It also marks an achievement for LA to begin non-stop flights to Australia from their main home base in Santiago – to be honest we’re a bit surprised the airline hasn’t de-tagged the service to Sydney via Auckland yet.
It’s a bit intriguing though when you look at the timings of the new flight – a 12:55 service is a bit early in the day so facilitate connections from LATAM’s vast network across the Americas, and a 17:55 arrival into Melbourne doesn’t fully capitalize on Qantas’ dominant domestic presence in Australia. On the return leg, while the late departure does indeed allow for connections from other points within the region, the late arrival means connecting opportunities beyond Santiago become rather limited. It might be an indication that LATAM see’s strong point to point demand and that this flight isn’t really meant to feed other ops beyond Chile – which traditionally means strong yields which bodes well for the success of such a long haul flight.
Regardless, this is a great add to LATAM’s network and further cements the airline’s and indeed oneworld’s stranglehold on the South American market – as it stands the only real options from Australasia to South America are either on QF or LA – both oneworld airlines. NZ has a token presence to Brazil and the less said about Aerolineas Argetinas, a SkyTeam member, the better. So kudos to oneworld! Despite the unfavorable timings for connections, perhaps this could be an ‘out of the box’ route for ticketing from the US to Australia rather than the more traditional (and perhaps more expensive!) direct routings?
I think we’d gladly take a stop in Chile on the way to Melbourne if it meant a nice layover and some good pricing and good mileage earnings on oneworld…would you?