Brazil's Gol plans to transition its charter service to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic into a scheduled operation.

Gol launched flights to Punta Cana in June 2009 and currently operates three weekly frequencies to the resort destination from Sao Paulo with a stop in Caracas. The service is operated with a Varig-branded Boeing 737-800.

The Sao Paulo-Caracas leg is now operated with a mix of scheduled passengers heading to or from Venezuela as well as charter passengers heading to the Dominican Republic. Gol so far has only been able to carry Brazil-origin charter passengers on the Caracas-Punta Cana leg but told ATI last year it was hoping to get scheduled rights for this sector, allowing it to pick up passengers in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Gol has now secured these rights and in a statement today says one of its three of its Punta Cana flights will operate as a scheduled service from 3 April. As a result, Gol has started selling on its website tickets from Brazil to Punta Cana and from Punta Cana to Brazil. Previously Brazil to Punta Cana tickets were only available as part of packages through travel agents while Gol was not carrying any Punta Cana originating passengers.

All of Gol's Punta Cana flights originate in Rio de Janeiro before heading to Sao Paulo and subsequently Caracas. At Sao Paulo connecting flights are also available to other Brazilian cities.

Gol says it also plans to soon begin selling tickets for Caracas to Punta Cana and vice versa. Currently there are no airlines operating scheduled services on the Caracas-Punta Cana route although according to Innovata Venezuela's Aserca Airlines serves the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo from its Caracas base.

Gol already has pick-up rights in Caracas for its Aruba service. The carrier launched charter flights to Aruba in June 2009 and was able to transition the Caracas-Aruba leg to a scheduled service in October 2009.

Gol now operates one weekly Varig-branded 737-800 service on the Sao Paulo-Caracas-Aruba routing. It competes against Aserca and a second Venezuelan carrier, Avior, on the Caracas-Aruba route.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news