Chilean airline LATAM has been selected to operate a new weekly flight to the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, the island's government announced Thursday.
The new route would be the second commercial route between the continent and the islands. It would depart from São Paulo, Brazil, with a layover in Argentina. LATAM already operates the existing weekly service to the islands, which departs Chile and makes a lay-over in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz province.
However, on Thursday the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said the decision had not been finalised and expressed caution about the announcement, saying the route "is still subject to analysis by the competent authorities."
"The proposals, presented after joint efforts between the Argentine and British governments to identify airlines from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay that are willing to establish an additional regular flight between the continent and the Malvinas Islands, with stopovers at a relevant Argentine continental airport, are still subject to analysis by the competent Argentine authorities," the Foreign Ministry said.
"Once the Argentine government reviews the submitted proposals, from the point of view of their viability and convenience, a permit may be issued to one of them," the statement added.
An agreement for a second commercial flight connecting the Islands with the continent was outlined in a September 2016 joint communiqué agreed by the United Kingdom and Argentine governments, which also addressed issues on fishing, trade, hydrocarbons and shipping in the South Atlantic.
Malvinas government authorities are believed to have granted LATAM a permit to operate the additional flight as its preferred operator, but the location for the stop in Argentina has yet to be confirmed.
“Further negotiations with LATAM will include discussions on how the stop once a month in Argentina will be met,” read a statement from officials.
Officials from the Falkland Islands Government will continue detailed discussions on the proposals over the coming weeks.
“Future flight proposals will be shared with the public before a final decision is made by the Executive Council in September 2018," the statement released Thursday read.
For its part, LATAM said "to date, we have not been notified of the decision," recalling that "since 1999, LATAM Airlines Chile has operated flights to the Malvinas Islands according to a decree signed that year by the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom."
LATAM currently operates the only weekly flight to the islands, between Punta Arenas (Chile) and Mount Pleasant Airport on the Malvinas, in addition to the monthly flight with a stopover in Río Gallegos (Argentina). It is hoped the new route could be operational by October.
"Any changes in this route, the number of flights, or the aircraft it operates, are subject to the agreement of both governments, and a new service to the Malvinas Islands is subject to a formal agreement between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom", the company said.