A recent surge in transpacific activity is breaking Latin America's traditional ties with North America and Europe. This change is driven by more than the ethnic ties between Japan and its early emigrants to Brazil and Peru, or Taiwan's partiality towards Central American nations that grant it recognition. Practical reasons are behind this new move.

Inbound tourism is a big factor. Peru is already an overseas favourite, but China recently approved it for its own tourists. According to local reports, Chinese carriers are now studying Beijing-Lima routes with stops either in Toronto or Mexico City. Peru's transport minister reports that Singapore Airlines plans to launch Lima flights sometime this year.

Based on new bilaterals by Peru and Brazil with the United Arab Emirates, Emirates also plans flights to both countries in 2006. Finally, Spain's Air Comet hopes to extend its Madrid-Lima flights on to Shanghai later this year.

Colombia and South Korea aim to enter a new bilateral, but Chile is doing more than all of Latin America to boost transpacific ties. It already has a free-trade agreement with South Korea, and is in talks with New Zealand and Singapore. Both China and Japan recently signalled a willingness to open free-trade talks with Santiago. As host of the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, Chile has used that event to promote more transpacific links.

During the APEC conference, LAN and Korean Airlines announced a strategic alliance and LAN revealed that it was in talks with Japan Airlines on another one. LAN is now calling for a liberal bilateral between Chile and China, hoping to boost Santiago as a gateway from Asia to South America. For the same reason, LAN is adding frequencies to Sydney, promoting it as a southern hemisphere link between Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.


Source: Airline Business