Brazilian Airline Plans Direct Miamirio Flights
By Risa Polansky
Brazilian airline TAM is planning a direct flight between Rio de Janeiro and Miami, a first for the carrier, TAM officials say.
There is no start date for the operation but it is in the works, according to the airline’s press office in Brazil.
"We know we’re going to be up by the second half of the year, maybe by the end of the year," said Jose Sampol, TAM’s general manager for North America based in Miami.
The flight, he said, is to be available year-round and offer passenger and cargo service but all other details are pending. "At this point, we don’t have anything about the flight," Mr. Sampol said. "We don’t have any details about this route."
The company operates three daily flights from Brazil to Miami International Airport, two from Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport and one from Fortaleza with stops in Belém and Manaus.
American Airlines operates one roundtrip flight a day between Miami and Rio de Janeiro, said Tim Wagner, airline spokesman.
Brazilian tourism generated about $400 million in Greater Miami last year with about 420,558 overnight visitors, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Miami International Airport may have another new international flight coming. While South African Airways has yet to announce a Miami-Johannesburg flight, which local airport and trade officials have been advocating, the airline is considering one, a South Africa-based staffer said.
"South African Airways is in the process of re-evaluating its complete route network," Robyn Chalmers, head of corporate affairs, said in an e-mail. "This includes assessing the viability of the present destinations we service as well as analyzing the possibilities of serving new destinations. Miami is one such destination we are analyzing."
Local officials returned optimistic from a mission to South Africa late last month.
"We believe we have an excellent opportunity to secure these services," said Miguel Southwell, Miami International Airport’s assistant director for business retention and development. "We will continue to pursue them."
Tony Ojeda, executive director of Miami-Dade County’s Jay Malina International Trade Consortium, which organized the trip, said Miami-Dade County does $213 million in trade annually with South Africa, but it "could be double that if we had direct flights." Advertisement