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(eTN) – Brazilian airline, TAM Airlines, has said it is to add a thrice-weekly non-stop service between Rio de Janeiro and London as of August 10, 2010.

(eTN) – Brazilian airline, TAM Airlines, has said it is to add a thrice-weekly non-stop service between Rio de Janeiro and London as of August 10, 2010.

TAM, which is South America’s largest airline and a Star Alliance member, announced its decision to introduce the new direct non-stop service on June 23 in London.

TAM credits the addition of its Rio to London route to the increase it has seen in the number of passengers transported between the UK and Brazil. The airline said passengers increased from a monthly average of 9,500 in 2007 to 10,900 in 2008, and 15,600 in 2009. Between January and May 2010 the monthly average was 17,200, representing an expressive increase in demand of 81 percent over the period.

In addition, TAM has also seen increase in load factors despite the increased capacity of the aircraft used on the route. For the first five months of 2010 the Boeing 777-ER has been flying between the UK and Brazil with a load factor of 82.3 percent.

According to the airline, the thrice-weekly service will use Airbus A330-200s that compliment the existing daily Boeing 777-ER service between London and São Paulo. TAM, in a statement said: “The new Airbus A330-200 will offer 223 seats that, as on the São Paulo service, include a First Class cabin with just four flat sleeper seat units that have been designed for the passenger’s maximum privacy and comfort. The Airbus offers a further 36 seats in business and 183 in economy. Flight times in both directions between London and Rio de Janeiro are designed to maximize convenience, and the connecting services at both ends of the route with other TAM flights or those of its Star Alliance partners>”

With the new Rio service, TAM will soon be offering over 3,200 seats a week in each direction between the UK and Brazil which is an increase in capacity of 25 percent.

The inaugural flight out of Rio de Janeiro’s Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (Galeão) to London Heathrow Terminal 1 will take off just after midnight on Monday, August 9, the airline said. The new Rio flight will then depart from London on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at 11:15 pm and land in Rio de Janeiro early the following morning at 5:15 am. Flights from Rio will leave for London just after midnight on Monday, Thursday and Saturday evenings and arrive at Heathrow at 4:05 pm.

“We have seen a steady and solid increase in passenger demand between London and Rio de Janeiro on the existing São Paulo service. We therefore decided that the time was right to offer our clients the convenience and comfort of a new non-stop service between the two cities,” Paulo Castello Branco, TAM’s Commercial & Planning vice-president, said. “A service that will strengthen our operation at Rio’s international Airport, Galeão, which is already TAM’s second most important international hub after São Paulo.”

“At TAM we also recognize the importance of the growing links between these two very special cities that will host the next two summer Olympic and Paralympic games,” added Castello Branco. “London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.”

The new service from London will offer good connections in Rio de Janeiro to-and-from a number of popular destinations in Brazil and South America. TAM passengers, and those of the 26 member airlines of the Star Alliance, will also benefit from the extra connections available over London, the Brazilian airline said. “With the introduction of the new Rio service, the daily direct flight from London to São Paulo, which will still offer connections to Rio, will now depart Heathrow Terminal 1 at 10:05 pm to arrive in São Paulo at 5:35 am the next morning. Flights will leaves São Paulo at 11:40 pm and land in London at 3:00 pm the following afternoon.”