International Appeal: American Airlines In South America

American Airlines is the largest international operator in South America, and has become even a South American brand, increasing its presence throughout the region despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Vasu Raja, chief revenue officer at the company. How important is Latin America for the carrier? Let’s investigate further.

International Appeal: American Airlines In South America
American Airlines is the largest long-haul operator in South America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

American, the South American brand

American Airlines’ CRO, Vasu Raja, spoke with Simple Flying on September 23. During the webinar, he talked about the importance of the South American market for the company. He said,

“As we like to say, in South America, American is a South American brand. In pretty much every country, we are the largest long-haul operator and often by order of magnitude. Through the pandemic, we’ve increased our footprint in the region by 20 to 25%.”

In October 2021, American Airlines will operate 6,951 scheduled commercial flights between the United States and Latin America, according to Cirium. The airline will offer 1.23 million seats between both regions. Both numbers are a 28.2% and 31.3% increase, respectively, compared to American Airlines in October 2019.

“We’re flying more flights this fall than we used to fly at a peak time in the summer. So, we’ve really gotten to be big there through the business of our massive customer base there,” added Vasu Raja.  

American Airlines Boeing 7777
American Airlines flies to 35 destinations in Latin America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Where is American flying in Latin America

According to Cirium’s database, American Airlines will be flying to 35 destinations in Latin America during October.

Currently, the carrier flies to Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Belize, Argentina, Guyana, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Suriname, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, and Chile.

There are still several routes American Airlines has to reactivate after the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, the airline is currently not flying to Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Roatan (Honduras), Montevideo (Uruguay), Brasilia (Brazil), Manaus (Brazil), and Cordoba (Argentina).

Nevertheless, like Vasu Raja said, “there are very few places there that we don’t fly.” But that’s when the airline relies on its South American partners. This year, American announced investments in the Chilean low-cost carrier JetSmart and the Brazilian operator GOL Linhas Aereas.

JetSmart Airbus A320
JetSmart is American Airlines’ latest partner in Latin America. Photo: Getty Images

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Giving the clients value with local partners

As stated before, American Airlines is expanding its presence in South America via JetSmart and GOL. The carrier believes these two carriers are great partners because they have unique short-haul networks. They also have incredible products and “are willing to think creatively about things like loyalty,” said Raja.

Regarding the American alliance with low-cost carrier JetSmart, Raja said,

“Our loyalty program will be the loyalty program of JetSmart. And as that airline scales out and can compete with higher cost legacy carriers in the region, that creates a real opportunity for us not just to get more connectivity, but offer our customers flights that American Airlines couldn’t offer.”

Meanwhile, GOL’s network is extensive and really dense in Brazil. Both companies are looking to integrate even more deeply and become a single face to the customer. In the end, American Airlines’ partnership models in Latin America are more of marketing towards local consumers that already are loyal American fliers.

“What we’re hungry is for our short-haul partners to offer endpoint connectivity on the network; what we find working with any number of carriers that tend to be smaller, more agile, more nimble, is that we can go and create a very seamless customer experience petty quickly; we can innovate a lot faster and have reciprocal frequent flyer benefits,” Vasu Raja added.

Are you excited about American Airlines’ presence in Latin America? Let us know in the comments. 

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