Air Transport World

TAM's mainstream jump.

Brazil's foremost regional airline now is a player in the U.S.-South American market with Paris service coming

Nearly three weeks before 1998 ended, the TAM Group of airlines, darling of market-oriented commercial aviation in Brazil, launched the most daring business challenge of its short history. It started its first-ever international passenger/cargo long-haul operation, daily Sao Paulo-Miami runs. The new operation represents a full plunge into a market populated directly by two U.S. megacarriers and three other Brazilian airlines, and indirectly by half a dozen other Latin American airlines that also slice in traffic via their respective home bases.

The move implies significant associated aspects. First, TAM is jumping into the international mainstream in style, by becoming the first Latin American carrier to operate a new-generation widebody twinjet, the Airbus A330-200 in this case. The only jetliner operated before by the Group is the Fokker 100.

Second, Miami is the starting point, for in April, TAM will stretch wings to Europe, beginning Sao Paulo-Paris service.

Third, with both moves, it writes a page of fast-lane expansion not seen in this part of the world in the last few decades. As early as 1995, TAM was just a complex of two regional carriers in Brazil. Three years later, the brand name TAM already was an enterprise umbrella comprising a trunk carrier in Brazil as well as both a feeder airline and a flag carrier in Paraguay (ATW, 7/97, p. 173).

Fourth, the A330-200 enterprise (TAM is leasing five, with options for five more) is part of a major fleet modernization, as the airline starts receiving the first of 38 ordered A320s and A319s, with 37 options, next month. …

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