Gol To Expand South American Routes

July 11, 2012

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Brazilian airline Gol said it is expanding its South American destinations and will adjust international routes where the carrier's occupancy has fallen short of competitors.

Beginning this month and next, Gol will offer direct flights from Sao Paulo to Montevideo, Asuncion and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It will also increase the frequency of flights to Buenos Aires from Brazil's southern states, according to a company statement.

The adjustments to Gol's international routes come as the carrier cuts around 100 domestic flights from its network. Gol is also cutting about 2,500 employees this year after losing BRR710 million reais (USD$350 million) in 2011 due to poorly controlled growth and high fuel and staff costs.

Gol's flights to foreign destinations made up about 9 percent of the distance its planes flew last year. The airline's load factor on international flights was 62.6 percent in 2011, versus 78.8 percent for the industry.

Gol will also be facing less competition for international passengers in the short run, after the Uruguayan government decided to shut down the country's flagship carrier Pluna because of financial troubles.

When Gol first announced its new flights to Montevideo last week, the company said the decision was not related to the end of Pluna's operations. Gol recently cancelled flights to Santiago, the hub of its chief rival, LATAM Airlines, whose TAM unit is Brazil's largest airline.

(Reuters)