Brazil’s dominant international carrier TAM Airlines is up-gauging its double daily service between Sao Paulo and Miami to a -300ER as domestic rival GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes prepares to add the same route to its network.
The aircraft change, which will occur in the second quarter when TAM adds more 362-seat 777s to its fleet, increases the carrier’s daily capacity by 278 seats for a total gain of 1,946 seats each week. GOL, meanwhile, plans to operate its neweron its five-weekly service, offering about 900 or so seats a week, depending on which variant it uses.
GOL is expected to launch the route late in the second quarter.
The Miami route is somewhat of an anomaly for GOL as the carrier is currently focused on restructuring its domestic operation in light of declining demand and rising costs. But according to President and CEO Constantino de Oliveira Junior, who discussed the route during the company’s March 27 fourth-quarter results conference call, the right to apply for the route authority was seen as an opportunity to serve a high-yield market (for GOL this includes a stop in Caracas) without changing the carrier’s current fleet plan, which included the recent transfer of its last widebody to.
Indeed, any future long-haul expansion at GOL will be driven by similar opportunities—mainly in the Caribbean—rather than through a structured growth plan, added GOL’s top executive.
GOL’s Sao Paulo-Caracas-Miami service, de Oliveira continued, is a contribution to its new relationship with Delta, under which Delta will expand its long-haul services along the Brazil-U.S. corridor in the next five years. Few details of that expansion were offered by GOL’s CEO, although he noted that the U.S. consulate in Brazil was issuing more than 4,000 visas each day and that “if you look at the global trends of travel the Brazil-U.S. corridor is going to be very important over the next five and 10 years.”
De Oliveira’s comments about opportunistic growth appear justified in this context as Delta’s growth plan for Latin America centers on its hub at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Miami is a fortress hub for. In addition, TAM also is expected to join American’s Oneworld alliance after the Brazilian carrier is formally merged by , which will further marginalize GOL’s five weekly 737 flights.