When LATAM Airlines flight JJ8162 touched down at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on 3 October, it established an international landmark. The arrival of the flight from São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, after a 9-hour journey across the Atlantic Ocean, marks the start of the only direct flight service between Latin America and Africa, operated by a Latin American commercial carrier.
“We strive to take our customers farther and, in this respect, the service to Johannesburg inaugurates the fourth continent to receive the airline’s operations, connecting passengers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Claudia Sender, president of LATAM Airlines Brazil. “This is our first international service outside the continent after the launch of the LATAM brand. We are connecting two strategic regions that have a lot to offer to both tourists and business travellers.”
LATAM Airlines Group expects to fly more than 50 000 passengers a year on the São Paulo-Johannesburg-São Paulo route. In South America, the new flight will easily connect with destinations such as Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires and other Brazilian cities, apart from São Paulo. South African passport holders can benefit from visa-free travel throughout most of Latin America, a boost for tourism and business opportunities.
The inaugural LATAM Airlines flight was welcomed by a host of dignitaries, including Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador from the Embassy of Ecuador, Carlos Parker, Ambassador from the Embassy of Chile, Nicolas Roncagliolo, Ambassador from the Embassy of Peru and Daniel Castillos, Ambassador from the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and other representatives from the Embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Bongiwe Pityi, general manager: O.R. Tambo International Airport for Airports Company South Africa and her team were also on hand to welcome LATAM Airlines to South Africa. O.R. Tambo International Airport Emergency Services laid on the traditional welcoming water salute for the aircraft, as it taxied towards its parking bay.
LATAM Airlines is Latin America’s largest airline, with the region’s most complete network – flying to 115 destinations in Latin America, with connections to over 1000 other international destinations via its membership of the oneworld alliance. LATAM Airlines was created through the coming together of legacy airlines LAN (Chile’s national carrier) and TAM (the national carrier of Brazil), with LAN recently named as “Best Airline in South America” in the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards.
The flights between Johannesburg and São Paulo will be operated on LATAM Airlines’ technologically advanced Boeing 767-900, with LATAM’s fleet amongst the youngest in the world. Premium Business Class passengers have access to LATAM’s excellent VIP Lounges throughout Latin America, with the oneworld partnership opening access to 650 more lounges around the world.
During October, LATAM Airlines flight JJ8162 will leave São Paulo at 23:55 (local time) on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and arrive in Johannesburg at 14:10 the next day (local time). The return trip, flight JJ8163, will leave at 23:10 (local time) on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and arrive in São Paulo at 04:45 the next day (local time).
Starting November, flight JJ8162 will start operating its definitive schedule, leaving São Paulo at 23:55. (local time) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and arriving in Johannesburg at 14:10 the next day (local time). The return trip, flight JJ8163, will leave at 23:10 (local time) on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays, and arrive in São Paulo at 04:45 the next day (local time).