TAM to nix Rio de Janeiro-London flights

Washington DC
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LATAM Airlines Group's TAM subsidiary will suspend its non-stop flights between Rio de Janeiro and London Heathrow next month.

The withdrawal will mark TAM's exit from all of its European routes from the Brazilian city in recent years, as it consolidates its long-haul Europe flights in Sao Paulo.

TAM says it will drop the London flights from 17 March. It says it was operating thrice weekly on the route, although latest schedules in Innovata show that it is operating once weekly with Boeing 767 aircraft.

The carrier adds that it will continue to offer daily flights between Sao Paulo and London, and expects to resume thrice-weekly flights between Rio de Janeiro and London on a seasonal basis between 3 June and 19 July to cater to higher travel demand.

TAM suspended its non-stop flights from Rio de Janeiro to Paris and Frankfurt in 2013. LATAM's chief executive Enrique Cueto has said the airline had faced difficulty in competing with European carriers on Europe-bound flights from Rio de Janeiro.

TAM, however, could still maintain a presence on the Rio de Janeiro-London market in the near future through a codeshare partnership. It will become a Oneworld member from 31 March. Oneworld member British Airways operates non-stop on the route, and will be the only airline offering service between the two cities after TAM's exit.