Discussions between representatives of the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC) and Lan Chile officials aimed at introducing a second weekly flight between Santiago and the Islands are currently taking place.
However it appears likely that it will be the next austral summer before a mid-week flight in addition to the current Saturday schedule will become operational. Falklands officials have felt for sometime that a twice-weekly service between the Islands and Santiago would offer more flexibility in terms of businessmen and tourists visiting the Falklands.
However while a second weekly flight is under consideration by Lan Chile officials they have indicated that they are not yet ready to introduce the new A320 aircraft to replace the normal 737, as ?passenger numbers are not large enough'.
Lan Chile operations to the Islands ceased in March 1999 at the height of the General Pinochet detention in London, and it is believed after Argentine officials in Buenos Aires exerted pressure on Santiago. The weekly schedule only resumed after the Falklands Government had agreed to a once-a-month stopover in Rio Gallegos by Lan Chile and the lifting of a 17 years ban on Argentine nationals visiting the Falklands.
When Lan Chile introduces a second weekly flight between Santiago and the Islands it seems likely that flight times may be rescheduled to connect with the Madrid to London flight. This would allow Falklands passengers to arrive in London at midday on Sunday and not on Monday as at present.
Under an Agreement between FIDC and Lan Chile, should the number of passengers on any given flight between Punta Arenas and the Islands fall below an agreed level, (believed to be around 40) the Falklands Government subsidizes the Chilean airline in order to ensure that Lan Chile ?break even' on that particular flight.