TAM Brazilian Airlines, which recently became a full member of Star Alliance (see online news May 13) will use new A330-200s to fly from Rio to both London and Frankfurt from this August. The aircraft, which it is expected will have a three class configuration of 223 seats (4 First; 36 Executive; 183 economy) will commence flights on Monday August 9.
Flights will be overnight in both directions. From London Heathrow Terminal 1 flights will be on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday with an expected departure time of 2115. From Rio flights will be on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with an expected arrival in Heathrow of 1605. TAM’s daily Sao Paulo flight will now depart at 2135, 30 minutes later than before, but will arrive back in London at the same time, 1405.
TAM says that traffic to Rio over Sao Paulo was already strong, and the airline sees part of the advantage of new direct flights to Rio as freeing up capacity on the daily Sao Paulo service (since this includes connections onward to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Lima, etc). There will also be good connections in Rio to onward services to other South American cities and destinations within Brazil, although details of these have not been announced.
As previously noted, the route is strong for business traffic led from the UK by the oil and gas industry and finance. There is also increasing movement between the two cities because of the Olympic Games being held in 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio. Brazil also hosts the World Cup in 2014, so a lot of people involved with those events, in sectors including infrastructure and planning, are now travelling between the two cities. The Brazilian economy grew by nine per cent in the first three months of 2010.
In other news, TAM also confirmed this week that it has made firm orders for another 20 new A320s and five A350-900s. The A350s are confirmed with Rolls Royce engines, with delivery dates of 2014/2015. TAM already has orders in place with Airbus for 44 A320s, 3 A330-200s and 22 A350-XWB, making a total of 94 aircraft on the order books of Airbus from TAM.
For more information visit tam.com.br.
Report by Tom Otley