LanChile expands service, partners with Peru start-up

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MIAMI -- There was no shortage of news at LanChile headquarters during the summer of 1999.

During July alone, Chile's flag carrier inaugurated three additional nonstop flights per week between Los Angeles and Santiago, Chile; became a major participating partner in the newly launched Peruvian carrier, LanPeru, and announced the resumption of once-weekly service to the Falkland Islands, whose only commercial air link had been cut last March for diplomatic reasons.

Route growth has contributed to the increase in the carrier's U.S. market share to 40% in 1998, and, according to Alexandre de Gunten, vice president, international, for North and Central America, Asia and the Caribbean, the carrier is now well positioned to deliver the best in-flight frequencies and service from its major U.S. gateways to its Latin America gateways.

"LanChile is committed to serving the West Coast market," said de Gunten, "and we now provide the most nonstop flights from Los Angeles to South America, including the only nonstop service to Santiago [three times weekly] and Lima [daily], as well as the only direct service to Buenos Aires, Argentina [daily via Santiago]."

All together, the Chilean carrier offers 50 flights weekly, including 36 nonstops, from its North American gateway cities of Miami, New York and Los Angeles to Lima and Santiago.

Route growth has been accompanied by an upgrade of aircraft, said de Gunten, who pointed out that the company has standardized its long-haul fleet with all 767-300ER aircraft, offering three classes of service.

Further, starting in 2000, the carrier will renew its short-haul fleet by incorporating 20 new A320 planes. With daily nonstops to Lima from Los Angeles and New York, it is no coincidence that the Chilean carrier completed an unusual expansion this year, taking a 49% equity stake in LanPeru, a new Peruvian company that began domestic operations in July.

"Our North American market is about evenly divided between commercial, ethnic and leisure traffic," de Gunten said, "and the leisure sector is showing the strongest growth."

He also added that both Peru and Chile are destinations enjoying healthy increases in foreign visitors. Peru alone is anticipating a 15% boost in 1999, and "the alliance of LanChile, with its 15-city network in Chile, and LanPeru, serving major tourist centers, opens an exciting opportunity for regional tourism development," he said.

According to de Gunten, "LanChile will handle all facets of the commercial side of LanPeru, including serving as its official representative in the U.S."

Further, de Gunten said, "plans for LanPeru include providing the Peruvian market with a high-quality air transportation service, and we hope to begin international flights between Lima and Miami in the near future."

Presently, LanPeru (airline code LP) is operating 737 aircraft on three daily nonstop flights between Lima and Cuzco and a fourth with an intermediate stop in Arequipa. The carrier's schedule also includes two daily nonstop flights between Lima and Arequipa, one of which continues to Tacna.

According to de Gunten, LanChile also has stepped into the Chilean tourism picture with the opening of a new division called LanTours, "and we hope that U.S. wholesalers and travel agents will want to work with us in making land arrangements for their inbound FIT and group clients."

De Gunten is particularly proud that his carrier, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, received the 1999 Silver OAG Airline of the Year Award for best Caribbean, Central and South American airline.

Landmarks for the company last year included a code-share agreement with American Airlines, under which members of both LanPass and AAdvantage frequent flyer programs earn mileage credit and redeem rewards.

LanChile
Phone: (800) 735-5526
Web: www.lanchile.com

Tour Information Desk
Phone: (800) 244-5366

LanPeru
Phone: (800) 735-5590

Line resumes weekly service to Falklands

PORT STANLEY, Falkland Islands -- LanChile has reinstated its weekly service to the Falkland Islands' Port Stanley airport. The service departs on Saturdays from Santiago and stopping en route in Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas.

Last March, service was suspended to the Falklands, a British colony, due to a diplomatic impasse between Chile and Great Britain.

"The Falkland Islands Tourist Board is delighted with the resumption of LanChile's flights," said manager John Fowler, "for we can now continue our efforts to urge North Americans touring in southern Chile to take that extra short step to the Falkland Islands."

Effective Oct. 16, LanChile flights between Santiago and Port Stanley will make an additional stop in Rio Gallegos, Argentina, to pick up passengers. This stop will operate once monthly in both directions.

The two following U.S. tour operators have programs in place for the Falkland Islands:

Ladatco Tours
Phone: (800) 327-6162 or (305) 854-8422
E-mail: [email protected]

Treadlightly
Phone: (800) 643-0060 or (860) 868-1710
Web: www.treadlightly.com

Falkland Islands Tourist Board
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.tourism.org.fk

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