By Ben Tavener, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – American Airlines is gearing up for a busy tourist season by reintroducing its daily nonstop New York–Rio de Janeiro route throughout the Brazilian summer. The revamped service will run from November 15th, 2011 to April 2012, according to the company, and is following a trend of increased flights from the U.S. to Brazil.
The airline – the world’s fourth largest – first started operating the daily nonstop route in November 2010 after demand soared, and now is the only nonstop New York–Rio service provided by a U.S. airline.
Although the service was reined in during the low season, it is now being beefed up again for the peak season thanks to increased interest from business passengers and tourists.
“It has been really successful route; so successful, in fact, that we are now bringing in a bigger plane, going from a Boeing 767 to a larger 777, which will offer a first class service, as well as business and economy classes,” Dilson Verçosa, Director of Sales and Marketing at American Airlines, told The Rio Times.
“Brazil is everywhere now. It’s not just because of big events, but the country is growing and attracting more attention from big companies from all over the world – particularly from companies in the United States and more executives are traveling to Brazil,” he added.
New York City nurse Cristiana Maiella, who has flown the New York–Rio route, says that the new service will take some of the hassle out of the long journey. “Before, the plane felt packed to the brink, so a more spacious aircraft will increase comfort and tourism may increase for both NYC and Brazil,” she explained.
Mike Smith, an ex-New Yorker living in Rio adds: “Being able to go direct from New York to Rio, without stopping in São Paulo or Miami, makes a big difference with an overnight flight and trying to get some sleep.”
For many years the number of flights between the U.S. and Brazil was limited by bilateral agreement, but in the future there should be fewer restrictions thanks to the Open Skies initiative, expected by 2016.
One new American Airlines route that has been given the green light by both governments is a Miami-Manaus service, which should start running later in 2012.
Manaus, capital of Brazil’s Amazonas state, is the gateway to the Amazon rainforest, which has proved ever more popular with ecotourists. Considerable interest from U.S. markets, as well as more European and other global travelers connecting through Miami, are behind the new route, the company explains.
Indeed, many flights to Brazil from the U.S. leave from or connect through Miami – the closest major city to Brazil in the mainland U.S. and just 4.5 hours’ flight from Manaus.
American Airlines already provides flights to New York which connect through Miami, as well as a four-day-a-week service from Miami to Brasília and other routes to Salvador and Recife.
The airline’s nonstop New York-Rio route operates between JFK International Airport and Rio’s Galeão International Airport. The Boeing 777 can carry over 300 passengers, depending on the model, and the flight between New York and Rio takes around ten hours, covering 7,700km (4,785 miles).