While the Falkland Islands Brazil commercial airlink is not yet resuming, Director of the Department of Development and Commercial Services (DCS), Becky Clark has confirmed this isn’t a complete cancellation of the LATAM flight.
“FIG and LATAM continue to have regular meetings about both routes, and the announcement that the São Paulo route isn’t restarting yet isn’t any sort of statement on future intent.”
Asked about the reason for the flight not resuming, and whether there was something which made FIG unable to resume the route, Ms Clark said “it’s not an inability [to resume], but the lead in time for re-establishing the route was always at least three months.
“Every time the suspension period was extended it was because something that had been anticipated at the previous point of extension hadn’t happened,”
Ms Clark said this remains to be the case, as Covid-19 numbers remain high in Brazil and “there’s still quite a lot of travel restrictions in place.”
This meant that, Ms Clark said, “getting to that ability to negotiate for the three-month lead in period hasn’t been reached yet.”
The fact that the route is less established, she noted, also has an impact.
Asked whether there had been any political issues in reestablishing the route, in particular in relation to Argentina, Ms Clark stated “it would be disingenuous to suggest there aren’t political dimensions to the negotiation of that route,” but added that she was not involved in the political discussions.
She added that “the focus in DCS is really just on the practicalities of how those routes can work and ensuring that both FIG and the Falklands generally and LATAM, get what they need out of what we have.”
Asked to confirm whether the decision not to resume the flight ultimately came from Development and Commercial Services, LATAM or a political decision, Ms Clark said “it wasn’t really a decision not to go forward, in a sense, it is a process we’ve got to go through and we haven’t got to the endpoint of it where we can restart.
“It wasn’t a decision made to not pursue it, we are pursuing it and just haven’t reached the point yet of being able to announce anything definitive.”
Penguin News asked, as this news came a few short weeks before the previously intended restart date of November 8, whether the public could expect further notice for when the flight would resume or not in the future.
“I don’t know, because we’re not there yet,” Ms Clark said, “my hope would be that at the point where we were able to restart the route we would give people three months’ notice to allow them to book and plan,” but it is uncertain at this stage.
On the state of the current route to Santiago Ms Clark said it has “seen a huge amount of increase in passenger numbers” and is “almost now back up to pre-pandemic levels.”