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LATAM: Returns with Melbourne to Santiago, Chile route from 1 September 2023

LATAM: Returns with Melbourne to Santiago, Chile route from 1 September 2023

This will make for a wonderfully direct 13-hour route for Melbournians to Santiago de Chile and on to another 140 South American destinations. The route was paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, LATAM runs a daily service from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland in New Zealand. If you want a more direct route, then you need to wait until October when Qantas will resume direct flights using its 787 Dreamliners on the route.

a plate of food and a donut
LATAM Business Class meal [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

The Melbourne service

The service will run three days per week using a Dreamliner with the newer 1-2-1 business class configuration of lie-flat seats and direct aisle access on the following schedule:

  • LA804 from Melbourne, 12:25 pm Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arrives Santiago 11:20 am, same day
  • LA805 from Santiago, 12:55 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arrives Melbourne at 5:30 am, plus a day

The Sydney (via Auckland) service

Back in 2019, LATAM ran a direct service to Santiago out of Sydney but using the older business class configuration of 2-2-2, which did not provide direct access for all seats. Currently, if you prefer to leave from Sydney, then this is the daily via Auckland both ways schedule:

  • LA800 from Sydney, 11:35 am, Auckland stop 4:40 pm, arrives Santiago 1:40 pm
  • LA801 from Santiago, 12:40 am, Auckland stop 5:15 am, arrives Sydney 9:35 am
an airport terminal with a few signs and a row of screens
Auckland Airport, LATAM check-in [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

More government subsidies

Again, airlines gain from playing off state governments and gaining subsidies for their services. In this case, the Dan Andrews government and Melbourne Airport are crowing about the taxpayer and shareholder money they have spent subsidising this route. The State government press release crows about adding more than 38,500 airline seats to Melbourne, and delivering a yearly $52.5 million boost to the Victorian economy, creating an estimated 297 new jobs in aviation and tourism. So, if my arithmetic is correct, that’s ~ AU$ 177,000 per job created per year. Is that value for money?

But it’s not just employment; there is also trade and freight to consider:

‘LATAM’s flights will strengthen our export access to Latin America with its Boeing 787-8 aircraft able to carry up to 10 tonnes in air freight each way. Two-way goods trade between Victoria and the region was valued at $2.8 billion in 2021-22.’

Victorian State Government Press Release
a seat and a television in a plane
LATAM Business Class on 787 in a 2-2-2 configuration. The newer configuration is in 1-2-1 staggered configuration

2PAXfly Takeout

Obviously good news for Victorians, now having a direct route to South America. My only beef is that these commercial routes – which should be market-determined, get perverted by government subsidy, using taxpayers’ money to subsidise commercial enterprise. I have some sympathy for airlines wanting subsidies when conditions like a pandemic beyond their control devastate their income source. However, I have no sympathy when travel is in boom-time, which it is now, and airlines are still reaching into taxpayers’ pockets. Socialising losses and privatising profits again.

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