Whether its the strong economy and business or the myriad tourist destinations drawing visitors in, the demand for travel to Chile is causing a rush among airlines seeking to expand their operations to the Andean nation.
Local press report that eight airlines are set to offer new routes to destinations in Chile within the next year.
Currently, 15 international airlines operate in Santiago but this is set to increase to 23 by the end of the year. Among the new carriers set to enter the Chilean aviation market are several European operations, many of which are focusing on Santiago as part of a wider effort to build a presence in South America.
The first airline set to offer flights to Chile will be dutch carrier KLM. According to the company, three weekly flights will be offered between Amsterdam and Santiago — each using the Boeing 777-300 planes with a capacity of 425 passengers — as of February 2, 2014.
KLM’s CEO Pieter Ebers summarised the company’s position. “Santiago is a perfect fit for our strategy as we are focusing on emerging markets in South America. Therefore, we are very happy to offer our clients our ninth South American destination,” said Ebers. Adding that the Chilean capital is “a very attractive destination, both for tourists and those traveling for business.”
Another European carrier set to begin operations is Italian company Alitalia which is expanding routes to Santiago as part of its drive to offer several new “long haul routes with high potential.”
On the national level, OneAirlines and Chilejet are both looking to break into the growing domestic market. In 2012, Chile saw flights being offered to the island of Chiloé for the first time ever reducing the journey from Puerto Montt from more than four hours via car and ferry to only 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, infrastructure work is already well under way on a project to add a second terminal to Santiago’s international airport increasing its capacity to serve up to 29 million passengers per year.