LAN looking into developing international hub at Bogota

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LAN Colombia, the newest airline in the Chile-based LAN group, is studying plans to convert Bogota into a hub, which could include long-haul operations.

LAN Colombia recently requested and obtained traffic rights to operate long-haul routes from Bogota to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.

"LAN Colombia is in the process of improving the international connectivity to and from Bogota. For this reason we have requested a number of route authorities," says a LAN Colombia source.

However, he declines to elaborate on when the carrier will launch an international hub operation at Bogota. "We have not yet established a date for launching the routes [to Spain]. Our first priority is the consolidation of our domestic network," he adds.

LAN acquired Aires in 2010 and rebranded it to LAN Colombia, fully integrating it into the group of LAN carriers in late 2011. Currently, LAN Colombia only operates single aisle aircraft and is in the process of transitioning its single aisle jet fleet to the Airbus A320 family. However, no announcement has been made about adding long haul aircraft to its fleet.

LAN, which has started the merger process with Brazil's TAM, also has local subsidiaries in Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, all of which operate international flights with Boeing 767s. LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru already operate flights to Spain, so LAN Colombia would be a logical addition to LAN's network of long haul flights.

The market between Colombia and Spain is currently being served by Iberia, with daily Airbus A340-600 operated flights between Madrid and Bogota, and Avianca, which operates Airbus A330s from Bogota to Madrid and Barcelona, as well as from Cali and Medellin to Madrid.