Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of widebody aircraft, launched a five times-weekly service from Dubai to the Chilean capital city of Santiago on Thursday, responding to rising demand among business travellers and tourists.
“The interest this new route has created since it was announced in late January is reflected in strong bookings to and from Santiago,” said Hubert Frach, Emirates’ divisional senior vice-president for commercial operations (West).
“Santiago is a very popular leisure and business destination, and this new service will offer customers across our global network – particularly from key inbound markets such the Far East, Middle East and West Asia – a great travel option to South America.”
Tourism in Chile has seen sustained growth over the last few years with 5.6 million international visitors visiting the country in 2016 compared to 4.43 million in 2015, Emirates said in a statement to media on Friday.
Chile is also home to large Chinese and Middle Eastern communities that can now take advantage of the new service.
The five times per week service is operated using Emirates’ newly configured two-class Boeing 777-200LR aircraft and travels via a linked stopover in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, where passengers will not have to disembark.
Flight EK263 departs Dubai on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 09:05hrs local time, arriving in Sao Paulo at 17:00, before departing again at 18:30 and arriving into Santiago at 21:40 on the same day.
The return flight EK264 will depart Santiago on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 01:10 local time, arriving in Sao Paulo at 05:55. EK264 will depart rom Sao Paulo at 07:45 and arrive in Dubai at 05:15 the next day. The new service sees Emirates fly an additional five times a week to Sao Paulo, bringing the total number of weekly flights between Dubai and Sao Paulo to 12.
The two-cabin Boeing 777-200LR offers 38 business class seats and 264 seats in economy, and up to 14 tonnes of cargo capacity, opening up access to more markets for Chilean exports including fish, seafood, flowers and other perishable goods, Emirates said.
The inaugural service was welcomed on arrival this morning with a water canon salute. “The arrival of Emirates in Chile is an important symbol of trust and confidence in the country, to our authorities and to how [partner airport operators] are setting a new standard of service at Arturo Merino Benítez Airport,” said Nicolas Claude, chief executive of Nuevo Pudahuel, the main operator of Santiago's international airport.