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UK to South America aviation: Virgin Atlantic enters with 787s

Virgin Atlantic will launch a daily service from London Heathrow to São Paulo Guarulhos in 2020, to be operated by Boeing 787 aircraft. The new service will be Virgin Atlantic's first route to South America (although it already operates to one other subregion of Latin America, namely Caribbean).

The markets between the UK and the four subregions of Latin America all have different characteristics. UK-Caribbean, the largest, is built on strong cultural and business ties, a large VFR market and strong tourist demand, but capacity is falling slightly.

UK-Central America, the second largest, is mainly driven by tourist demand, but seat numbers are stagnating. Growth in capacity from the UK to both Upper and Lower South America is accelerating, stimulated in both cases by LCC Norwegian's entry and growth. Lower South America, the smallest market, is growing the fastest.

Virgin's planned entry into UK-South America reflects the growing dynamism of this part of the UK-Latin America market. This has been boosted by the entry of Norwegian on London Gatwick to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, and BA's entry and growth on London-Heathrow to Santiago (Chile). On a rolling 52-week basis, the combined seat capacity from UK to the two South American subregions will exceed that of UK-Central America for the first time since the start of Apr-2019.

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