While overall capacity between Latin America and Europe has remained roughly unchanged over the last 12 months, there has been plenty of movement within this around the different routes.
Innovata schedules data for October 2013 shows monthly flight numbers between South America and Europe roughly unchanged compared with the same month last year. Airlines did lift total capacity in terms of available seats on these flights, which were up by around 2% in October 2013 compared with October 2012.
The biggest market remains Brazil-Portugal, which has more than 600 flights a month between the two countries. Capacity here is roughly unchanged. Routes connecting Brazil with France, Spain and Germany are also among the biggest South America-Europe markets, as is Argentina-Spain.
However, airlines have cut capacity on flights linking Brazil with France and Germany. Seat capacity is down 7% and 12% respectively between these markets. This reflects a near 30% cut in seat capacity on the Rio-Paris Charles de Gaulle route, although capacity has gone up flights linking Sao Paulo with the French capital.
Airlines have also shifted capacity from Spain to Latin America, adding seats from Madrid to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador city Guayaquil and Santa Cruz in Bolivia. However, capacity has been cut on services to Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic and the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
Spanish Skyteam carrier Air Europa has been one of the most active players in the Europe-Latin America market, increasing its presence with new flights to Montevideo and Santa Cruz. Iberia dropped its flights to the Uruguayan city earlier this year as part of its restructuring efforts.
The Spanish carrier will add Santiago de Chile and Cordoba in Argentina to its growing network of destinations in South America from April 2014 and establish Salvador de Bahia in northeastern Brazil as its gateway to new markets in the region. It will increase its thrice-weekly flights to Salvador to a daily schedule.
The creation of the LATAM airline group, meanwhile, has brought together two of the biggest operators – LAN and TAM – but Rodrigo Contreras Brain. the group's general manager Europe, points to the limited overlap in services of the two. "Our biggest strength is in the connections we can offer within South American," he says, noting that TAM brings Brazilian connectivity to LAN. "We have a very strong hub in Peru, we have increased connectivity in Sao Paulo," he says.
"Traffic between Europe and South American is growing. We can see there is a huge opportunity to increase our presence in this segment, particularly in leisure traffic," he adds. "We see a lot of potential in the market, there is a lot of room to keep developing the business and increase awareness of the [Latin American] destinations."
While there have been sharply differing economic fortunes between European and Latin American countries, particularly in Portugal and Spain – two of the key European markets for Latin America – Contreras is confident that times are improving. "There are signs that the markets are recovering," he says.