80 years ago, Air France launched its Santiago route for passengers.
As soon as the company was created in 1933, it began operating flights to the capital of Chile. Despite the distance separating it from the Bourget base some 11,600 km away, Santiago is part of the South-American network inherited from Aéropostale. Enclosed by the Andes, it is a difficult-to-access city. Santiago de Chile was only connected to Buenos Aires, then known as “Buenos-Ayres”. And only for postal flights. Thanks to the Potez 62, a modest twin-engined plane with a seating capacity for 10 passengers, the route was opened to passengers, in November 1936. It took five hours for the plane to cross the cordillera mountain range to connect the two capitals.
South America, commercial aviation began to take off, spurred by competition from the US and European airlines.
Air France plays its cards right
In July 1939, its France-Chile service was fully opened to passengers. The journey was truly epic! 70 hours in total and fifteen stop-overs including Marseille, Dakar, Rio, Montevideo, etc. Suspended in July 1940, the route was reopened in 1946, with a DC-4. But due to insufficient profitability, the Chilean service was withdrawn from the flight schedule for fifteen years. Thanks to the advent of jets, the Paris-Santiago service was resumed in November 1961, with two weekly flights, by B-707. The route reached its cruising speed, served by increasingly efficient aircraft – the B-747 in 1979, the A-340 in 1993 and the B-777 in 2000. Air France currently connects Paris to Santiago with a daily direct flight by B-777-200; the outbound flight takes 14 hours and the return flight lasts 13 hours 20 minutes.