My Account Menu

CAPA Login


Register to trial CAPA Membership!

Europe-South America route analysis. Only a few city pairs offer more than daily service

29-Sep-2011

Despite strong historic and cultural ties, air service between much of Western Europe and South America remains spotty at best, with only 18 city pairs having more than 7 weekly flights. Seventeen more city pairs have a daily flight, and beyond that the seats and frequencies diminish — 24 out of the 69 nonstop links (35%) operate less than five times weekly.

At both ends of the routes, service originates or terminates at just a handful of airports, with Madrid overwhelmingly the European anchor. In South America, Brazil dominates, especially Sao Paulo. Of the 28 frequencies included in our parameters, 11 - roughly 40% - begin or end in Brazil.

Routes Europe-Lower South America with 4000+ seats: 19-Sep to 25 Sep-2011

1

MAD

Madrid Barajas

EZE

Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

19,922

2

MAD

Madrid Barajas

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

13,346

3

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

GIG

Rio De Janeiro-Galeão

10,502

4

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

10,426

5

FRA

Frankfurt International

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

10,388

6

LHR

London Heathrow

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

8575

7

MAD

Madrid Barajas

SCL

Santiago International

8184

8

LIS

Lisbon Lisboa

GIG

Rio De Janeiro-Galeão

6400

9

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

EZE

Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

6194

10

LIS

Lisbon Lisboa

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

6028

11

AMS

Amsterdam Schiphol

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

4956

12

FCO

Rome Fiumicino

GRU

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

4656

13

FRA

Frankfurt International

EZE

Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

4560

14

MAD

Madrid Barajas

GIG

Rio De Janeiro-Galeão

4288

15

LHR

London Heathrow

GIG

Rio De Janeiro-Galeão

4146

16

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

EZE

Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

4044

Parameters to examine the most frequent service routes

Routes Europe-Upper South America with 3000+ seats: 19-Sep to 25-Sep-2011

1

MAD

Madrid Barajas

LIM

Lima J Chavez

12,826

2

MAD

Madrid Barajas

BOG

Bogota Eldorado

11,336

3

MAD

Madrid Barajas

CCS

Caracas Simon Bolivar

11,266

4

AMS

Amsterdam Schiphol

PBM

Paramaribo Zanderij

6110

5

ORY

Paris Orly

CAY

Cayenne Rochambeau

6082

6

AMS

Amsterdam Schiphol

LIM

Lima J Chavez

4956

7

MAD

Madrid Barajas

GYE

Guayaquil Simon Bolivar

4918

8

FRA

Frankfurt International

CCS

Caracas Simon Bolivar

4522

9

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

BOG

Bogota Eldorado

3850

10

CDG

Paris Charles De Gaulle

CCS

Caracas Simon Bolivar

3850

11

FRA

Frankfurt International

BOG

Bogota Eldorado

3230

12

MAD

Madrid Barajas

CLO

Cali Alfonso Bonilla Aragon

3024

There is also very little nonstop service to the western part of South America, which has only three daily nonstops to Europe, one from Santiago and two from Lima.

Appearance of combined South American endpoints

At the European end, over 30% of the flights touch Madrid. And unlike Asian and North American routes, London is relatively unimportant in the overall market.

Appearance of combined European endpoints

But Lisbon is far more important than set parameters reveal

Underrepresented according to the parameters set is Portugal’s TAP which operates nonstop flights from Lisbon to nine Brazilian cities with 68 weekly frequencies, as well as 4 each week from Porto to Rio and Sao Paulo—2 each. There are additional flights from both Lisbon and Porto to Caracas. All of this gives Portugal, and especially Lisbon, far greater importance than is displayed by our truncated lists.a

TAP seats per week

Between

Brazil

Caracas

Lisbon

36,646

1578

Porto

2104

578

Far fewer frequencies than previously observed in other geographies

Despite the fact that Latin America continues to register steady growth, most of its sectors remain thinly served by standards set elsewhere. The top ranked route, Madrid-Buenos Aires has almost the same number of seats as Madrid-New York, a route that ranks 13th across the North Atlantic.

Decades of political and economic uncertainty have certainly contributed to the overall slow growth of these sectors and, with the exception of Brazil, long-haul European flights continue to be operated only to the capital cities.

Weekly frequencies: 19-Sep to 25 Sep-2011

Brazilian service comparable to Varig days

Following the demise of Varig, Brazilian carriers took a few years to sort out just who would become the intercontinental player, representing Brazil in foreign markets. Within the past few years, it is clear that TAM is that successor and over time it has rebuilt the Varig network, but in a very different way.

Varig to Europe Sep 2001

RIO

SAO

CPH

CPH

FRA*

FRA*

LIS*

LIS*

LON

LON*

MAD*

MAD*

MIL

MIL*

PAR*

PAR*

ROM*

ROM

The chart shows Varig’s European destinations a decade ago. All of these points, with the exception of Copenhagen continue to have nonstop flights, with TAM now operating their own services to these traditional European gateways.

But TAM, unlike Varig, has separated Rio and Sao Paulo and has also eliminated the tag ends and circular routings often used by Varig. TAM operates nonstop services on a consistent schedule as opposed to the Varig “if it’s Tuesday, we must be in Copenhagen” operation.

European Carriers dominate

Despite the return of a full-fledged Brazilian carrier to the South Atlantic, coupled with expansion at LAN and Avianca, European carriers continue to operate the largest percentage of seats between South America and Europe. Using our combined tables of the most prolific routes, the following 3 charts display the breakdown by European alliance hubs and origin of carrier, for the services on the list. The South American endpoint may, or may not belong to the same alliance—for instance Milan-Sao Paulo operated by TAM.

SkyTeam

oneworld

Star

The charts show that European airlines operate far more flights than do their South American counterparts, and the Europe/South America services operated by Swiss and TAP only widen that gap.

And, given that every major European carrier is in, or bound for, an alliance, the pending possible shift in South America has huge consequence.

The Alliance question

Alliance loyalties may change radically in the near future as the LAN/TAM merger moves closer to reality. Just in the past week another hurdle was passed when the Chilean regulators gave their blessing to the combination—with a few caveats. For the alliances, the most important stipulation was that the newly minted company had to align with only one global alliance, eliminating the possibility of maintaining the status quo. The final selection will have a tremendous effect on the alliance shares in the region. See related article: LAN-TAM alliance decision would give Star bigger benefits but oneworld favoured with more at stake

The following graph outlines the current hub-to-hub connections available between Europe and South America. Included are accepted future members Avianca (Star) and Aerolinas Argentinas (SkyTeam).

Current hub-to-hub sectors

Though from Europe the chart shows Star with a distinct edge, once the third oneworld player, American Airlines and its comprehensive North American network is included, oneworld has a strong overall advantage in the region.

However, should oneworld prevail as the surviving alliance for the merged carrier, that group will dominate not only between North and South America, but also gains a strong and dominant lead on South Atlantic routes as well.

Hub-to-hub sectors if LATAM overlooks Star Alliance

Star: the most to lose

In that scenario, Star’s hub-to-hub connections, based on current operations, would be limited to Frankfurt-Bogota and all of the other Star operators to Brazil would land in a market devoid of connecting feed. This is especially problematic for TAP with its multiple Brazilian gateways.

As reported in a previous article, a decision either way will greatly change the alliance presence on the continent and, in a way, affect the carrier choices of those who frequently travel to or from South America.

The winner will also benefit in years to come as the South American aviation market grows and routes expand. Unlike many pending industry changes, some of which take decades to unfold, the alliance selection will have immediate and visible market results.


Want more analysis like this? CAPA Membership gives you access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find out more and take a free trial.