MELBOURNE Airport has welcomed the return of LATAM Airlines, which over the weekend operated the first direct flight from South America to Victoria since 2020. The 292 passengers onboard the milestone flight on Saturday 02 September were gifted a traditional South American sweet biscuit (alfajor) at check-in and were entertained with some traditional Chilean Cueca dancing.
The Latin American airline will initially offer three return flights per week on a Boeing 787-9 aircraft between Chile’s capital Santiago and Melbourne, offering more than 900 seats per week on the route. In addition to the carrier’s daily flights from Sydney via Auckland to Santiago, which resumed in March 2022, the Melbourne service means LATAM now operates a total of 10 flights per week between Australia and South America.
“The resumption of flights to Santiago restores our direct connection to South America and brings the number of international carriers flying into Melbourne back to pre-pandemic levels,” Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer Lorie Argus shared, adding that overall international capacity has now reached 97% of pre-COVID levels, and is expected to hit 100% by the end of this year.
“These direct flights are not only great for Victoria, thanks to Melbourne Airport’s single terminal precinct, they also provide an easier connection for travellers from Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT,” she said.
LATAM Airlines Country Manager – Oceania, Chris Ellis, said the airline is “excited” to relaunch the Melbourne flights, adding that, “with the support of the Victorian Government and Melbourne Airport, we are able to meet the high demand for travel to South America”.