LAN seeks route between China and South America
Chile-based airline LAN will seek to establish its own flight routes between China and South America following its merger with Brazil-based airline TAM, which is expected to be completed by early next year.
LAN, formerly LAN Chile, now provides flight services through code-sharing partnerships with US and European airlines such as American Airlines, Lufthansa and KLM. Passengers take connecting flights in Miami or Frankfurt. But LAN's new sales agent in Shanghai said the airline would seek to develop its own routes in the long run.
'China is an important market,' said Charles Chan Lop-poon, general manager of LAN's new sales agent, Mandarin Travel. 'I believe LAN has begun talks with relevant authorities.
'After the merger, LAN's network coverage will become much more thorough and the resulting synergy effect may provide room for a fare cut.'
The airline's senior sales manager for Asia, Juan Carlos Selman, said earlier that China would be a focus of its future expansion. Not only has tourism and trade between China and South America grown strongly over the years, but the Asia Pacific region is expected to be the world's biggest and fastest-growing air transport market.
LAN expanded its sales presence in China four months ago by adding two more agents in the key cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
The airline has ordered 126 new aircraft including 32 Boeing's 787 Dreamliners, that will be delivered in batches in the next four years.
In September, LAN offered cheap tickets between Lima, Peru and Shanghai and Guangzhou for just 7,500 yuan (HK$9,149), with a minimum journey time of 20 hours. That compared favourably to over HK$10,000 for flights between Lima and Hong Kong, and a minimum journey of time of 23 hours.
Henrietta Yue, assistant supervisor for customer service of Lotus Tours - a business trip agent for 55 years - said such offers would inevitably lure some mainland business people and local travellers who may otherwise choose to fly from Hong Kong for its reliable flight schedule.
Chan said the promotion would be offered to Hong Kong travel agents, although details will be disclosed later.
LAN and TAM - both listed on the New York stock exchange now - will become South America's largest airline with annual revenues approaching US$10 billion when combined. The merged company, known as LATAM Airlines group, will fly nearly 200 local and international destinations.
new aircraft have been ordered
- The company will become South America's largest airline, with annual revenues of US$10 billion