Currently, domestic Brazilian and international carriers are primarily focusing their activities on Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Viracopos and a number of other cities in the Southeast of South America’s largest country. Establishing a combined passenger and cargo hub further north would help developing a regional Brazilian market and provide a springboard for intercontinental flights to and from Europe.
Brazil’s LATAM-member TAM has shortlisted three cities for building a new domestic and intercontinental gateway: Recife, Natal and Fortaleza. All three of them are located in the northeastern
bulb of the country, on a direct route between Europe and the country’s further south positioned centres, where since long the economic and financial tune is set.
Therefore, TAM’s plan to set up a hub in the Northeast is also kind of a development aid for a long neglected and underdeveloped region that once used to be the poorhouse of Brazil, exploited since centuries by plantation owners and neglected by politicians.
The Northeast has undergone radical changes
However, meanwhile things have changed dramatically as can be seen in Natal with its thriving tourist industry and growing exports of agrarian products together with a broad variety of industrial products stemming from local manufacturers.
Recife with its two seaports and its major airport has placed itself also on the country’s map by developing into one of Brazil’s prime business centres. Just south of the city of 3.7 million a large industrial area has been established producing textiles, components for the automotive and electronic industry, foodstuff and beverages.
Finally Fortaleza, the northernmost of the three cities standing on TAM’s gateway shortlist, is known for its footwear production, textile industry, leather processing, agrarian products, fruit and vegetable tins.
Enhanced operational flexibility
Meanwhile, the LATAM Group is driving forward a number of studies to assess the feasibility of establishing a hub in one of the three above mentioned cities in Brazil’s Northeast. Which location they will finally opt for is totally open at this stage of the investigation. Basically, all three of them are suitable for realizing this project, confirms Luis Quintiliano, TAM Cargo’s Executive Director: “The Northeastern region is of great strategic importance for our business, both in origin and destination. Currently, we operate out of 12 Brazilian hubs and sub-hubs with Natal, Recife and Fortaleza belonging to them.” The manager goes on to say: “These three are already among the stations of major importance for our air freight activities in Brazil.”
Asked by CargoForwarder Global about the holistic idea the upcoming hub decision is part of Luis states: “Establishing a gateway in the Northeastern region enhances our operational flexibility and ups the quality of our product we are offering our clients.”
In addition to improved intercontinental connectivity the project will also create opportunities for new domestic flights and routes within Brazil.
Fortaleza, Natal or Recife – the decision will be taken before 2016
“The project will expand the capillarity of the Group in Brazil, South America, and internationally, particularly by increasing the number of destinations in Europe. It will also reaffirm the Group’s leadership in Latin America, increase connectivity options for customers and optimize coverage of passenger and cargo flows between Brazil and other markets,” said Claudia Sender, CEO of TAM S.A. and of TAM Linhas Aereas.
The new hub will be operated using the Group’s current fleet plan, and will not require further aircraft deliveries. The host city is expected to be chosen by the end of 2015, followed shortly by the implementation of the hub. Operations are expected to commence at the end of next year.