American Air to Revive Long-Distance Flights to Latin America

American Airlines Group Inc. is resuming much of its short-distance service to Latin America and starting to bring back longer flights over the next few weeks, building off of its dominance in the region among U.S. rivals.

South America is the strongest part of American’s long-haul system amid the coronavirus pandemic “when, admittedly, all of it is relatively weak,” Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja said Tuesday at the Aviation Festival Americas conference. The carrier serves every major city in the region “and most of the secondary and tertiary cities in terms of population,” he said.

American is reawakening some of its Latin America service amid a deep slump in long-distance flying caused by the pandemic. While travel demand within the U.S. is at about 40% of last year’s levels, international trips have tumbled even more. Travelers have been discouraged by concerns over new surges of infections and changing rules for entering various countries.

“We really like where we are in South America,” Raja said. “We think this is an opportunity for us to bring out more of that network sooner than later, given the innate competitive advantages that we have.”

Many short-distance flights to Latin America and the Caribbean have returned, as have longer routes to cities such as Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Santiago from Miami, a spokeswoman for American said. The carrier is beginning to expand such flights from Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Raja.

American on Nov. 16 will extend a program for preflight coronavirus testing for travelers to Belize in Central America and Grenada and St. Lucia in the Caribbean, which the airline considers part of its Latin America network.

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