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A Qatar Airways A350-1000 taxies in São Paulo/Guarulhos. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | João Machado)

LATAM Brasil, Qatar Airways Further Expand Codeshare

As international demand keeps flat during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, airlines are trying to increase their reach to find any demand possible. As such, this Monday, Qatar Airways, Qatar’s state-owned flag carrier, announced in a press release it is further increasing its codeshare agreement with LATAM Airlines Brasil, Brazil’s second-largest domestic carrier.

This is the second expansion of the agreement, after its launch in 2016 — when Qatar Airways became a shareholder of LATAM Airlines Group — and the first expansion in 2019.

In these terms, the release mentions, Qatar is adding its “QR” code to 45 additional flights to 40 destinations operated by LATAM in Brasil and internationally. Among the cities benefitted are Brasília, Curitiba, Porto Velho, Rio Branco and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as well as Lima in Peru, Montevideo in Uruguay and Santiago in Chile.

On the other hand, LATAM Brasil’s passengers now have more connection options from Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha. This week, the Qatari carrier started three weekly frequencies to LATAM’s São Paulo/Guarulhos hub, adding them to the already-operating daily rotations. This is the most weekly flights the airline has ever operated between both cities since it arrived in 2010.

This is despite the airline having poor load-factors between Doha and São Paulo due to the depressed demand for international travel. In November, according to Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), only 37.3% of its seats on the roundtrip flights were occupied.

However, cargo volume accounted at 917,652kg, easily surpassing November 2019 figures when 670,961kg were transported (this, considering cargo transported from Doha to Buenos Aires via São Paulo and vice-versa, a tag-on that still operated before COVID-19). This spike in cargo demand may justify the added flights.

Since May 2020, Qatar has connected its home base with São Paulo with the Airbus A350-1000. Previously, the company deployed the Boeing 777-200LR in the route. The Airbus has 65.625% more belly capacity than the triple-seven, according to Qatar Airways Cargo.

Regardless, this new frequency will allow LATAM’s customers to have connections in Doha to cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong, Male, Nairobi, Seoul and Tokyo; according to Panrotas, Luanda and Nairobi are also new destinations made available by the expanded operations.

In a press release, the CEO of Qatar Airways Group, Akbar Al Baker, said, “Since 2016, both Qatar Airways and LATAM Airlines Brasil have witnessed the significant mutual benefits commercial cooperation have brought, providing our passengers with unrivaled service and seamless connectivity and it is why our codeshare cooperation has been expanded twice in recent years. We look forward to further strengthening our commercial cooperation with LATAM Airlines Brasil to enhance the travel experience for our millions of customers.”

Tje CEO of LATAM Brasil, Jerome Cadier, stated “We are expanding connectivity and the choice of destinations for our customers. Even in a year as difficult as 2020, we are committed to offering our passengers more options to travel further with greater convenience and simplicity.”

With a partnership started in 2016, Qatar Airways currently owns 10% of LATAM Airlines Group. During the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent entry of LATAM in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, the Qatari airline committed to providing $750 million to the Latin American group as part of the debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing approved by the Southern District Court of New York.

João Machado
João Machado
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