Orlando International Airport’s connection to South America has taken off on another direct flight.
LATAM Airlines Group has begun new non-stop service from Orlando International Airport to Fortaleza, Brazil — a route that uses a Boeing 767, which can carry 220 passengers in economy and another 18 in business class.
“Introducing non-stop service between exciting destinations like Orlando and Fortaleza gives travelers access to world-class experiences,” said Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which oversees the Orlando airport. “We welcome expanded travel opportunities to South America that support growth in Central Florida with increased possibilities for both leisure and business travelers.”
“Connecting the U.S. and Brazil is a top priority and we are proud to offer unrivaled travel options to, from and within South America,” said Pablo Chiozza, LATAM Airlines Group’s vice president of North America and Asia, in a prepared statement. The company’s flights to Brazil account for more than 26 percent of the seats available connecting the U.S. and Brazil.
LATAM said by 2019, it will offer flights to up to three new destinations, but didn’t specify if that will include Orlando. However, the company has brought new services to Central Florida in recent years. For example, in 2015 it began nonstop Orlando flights to Brasilia International Airport in Brazil and Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru. That allowed Orlando to tap into the high-spending Brazilian market that spend more than $5,000 a trip when in the U.S. — much of that spent locally.
The newest flight service adds to an upswing in new international travel services coming to Orlando. For example, Spirit Airlines Inc. (Nasdaq: SAVE) announced in June it will begin new flights to 11 Latin American destinations by September.
The airport’s international traffic grew more than 11 percent in May 2018 — the latest data — to 534,864 overseas passengers. Overall international traffic over the past 12 months ending in May 31 reached 2.63 million, up 10.5 percent from the same time the previous year.
All the new activity further cements the need for the airport’s $4.27 billion capital improvement plan, which includes a new $2.15 billion, 16-gate South Terminal now under construction. The airport serves more than 44 million airline passengers each year, and expects that to keep growing.