BY MARY SUTTER
Latin Trade Magazine
Despite economic turmoil in several countries, more flights traversed the Atlantic from European airports to all points in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010 compared to 2009.
According to data from OAG, a UBM Aviation business, the number of annual flights from Europe to the region was 51,701 last year, up 3 percent from 50,401 in 2009.
Certain fast-growing routes stand out, likely reflecting the robust economies on the destination end. These include Madrid-Lima, where carriers added 19 percent more flights compared to 2009, ending 2010 with 1,077 flights. Flights from Lisbon to São Paulo increased by 16 percent to 576.
And although 14 percent fewer planes flew from Madrid to Buenos Aires last year, it remained the single-busiest route between Europe and Latin America, with 1,463 flights in 2010.
São Paulo overall was the top business-city destination for flights originating from such key European cities as Paris, London, Frankfurt, Lisbon and Milan.
The busiest European airport for Latin America-bound traffic is Madrid. “We offer direct flights to all the capital cities” from Spain, says Manuel Lopez Aguilar, executive vice president for commercial and customers at Iberia, Spain’s leading airline. It doubled its service to Colombia and Peru in September, followed by Mexico in October.
Also in October, Iberia added the new destinations of Cordoba in Argentina and El Salvador, along with four weekly direct flights from Madrid to Panama City that represent a shift away from San Jose, Costa Rica.
“Since last year there has been a lot of growth,” Lopez Aguilar says. “In 2011, we are in a new stage of growth.”
Already in 2011 Iberia has launched service between Madrid and Fortaleza/Recife in Brazil and inaugurated direct flights between Madrid and Los Angeles and Barcelona to Miami. In June, it will introduce direct service between Barcelona and São Paulo. Mexico is also an important market for Iberia, given the deep ties between it and Spain, Lopez Aguilar maintained. “In our case we have doubled the number of flights [from 7 to 14 weekly],” he says. “This is a bet for the future.”
This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of Latin Trade magazine.
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