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Brazilian Carrier Inks Airline Deal with Air China
Brazilian Carrier Inks Airline Deal with Air China

Air routes between China and South America are expected to become the next battlefield for airlines trying to cash in on the growing trade between the two sides of the Pacific Ocean.

In a bid to get ahead in the market, Varig Brazilian Airlines, Brazil's largest carrier, has launched code-share flights with Air China between the two countries.

In doing so, it has become the first South American airline to serve the Chinese market.

Air China will fly from Beijing and Shanghai to Frankfurt, while Varig will take passengers on from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

The total journey time will be shortened to 27 hours, including transfers. Passengers do not need a transit visa.

Previously, passengers traveling from China to Brazil had to travel for at least 30 hours.

"We are confident about the prospects of this route, given the closer trade relations between China and South America," said Cesar Yu, Varig's manager for China.

"We hope the code-sharing service will make the long journey more convenient to business and leisure travelers, and enhance economic and cultural exchanges between China and Brazil," Yu said.

China and Brazil are two of the world's largest developing countries. Brazil is China's largest trading partner in Latin America.

China is Brazil's second largest trading partner in Asia. Sino-Brazilian bilateral trade volume reached US$14.8 billion last year, rising 20 percent year-on-year.

Brazil was granted approved destination status by China last September, which means Chinese citizens can travel to Brazil through selected Chinese tour agencies.

China's surging demands for oil and other commodities are propelling expanding trade between China and Latin America. Chinese interests include Venezuelan oil, Chilean copper, and soybeans from Brazil and Argentina.

After signing a free-trade agreement with Chile last November, China is reportedly considering more such trade deals with other Latin American countries.

"Everybody is excited about closer economic relations and other South American airlines, such as LAN Chile and Aerolineas Argentinas, are considering launching services to China," Yu said.

Air networks in South America have become one of the major selling points for European and US airlines trying to woo Chinese passengers.

Air France and Air Europa promote themselves as the best European carriers for Chinese people traveling to South America.

American Airlines, which will start flying non-stop to China on April 2, thinks its biggest advantage over other US carriers operating in China is its vast air route network in South America.

But Yu said he is confident that Varig's 80-odd years of experience in Brazil and an "unsurpassable air network in South America" will be appealing to travelers. 

China Daily

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