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American to discontinue flight from Charlotte to Sao Paulo

American Airlines plans to end its daily flight from Charlotte to São Paulo, Brazil, this fall, the airline said Thursday, a cut that will leave the airport without nonstop service to South America.

The São Paulo flight, which operates under the US Airways banner, will end Oct. 1. The airline said Charlotte travelers will still be able to get to Brazil via Miami, American’s primary hub for Latin American flights.

American has previously said it plans to cut its nonstop US Airways flight from Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro at year’s end.

The company is working to combine its route network with that of US Airways, following the carriers’ December merger. Charlotte is the combined airlines’ second-busiest hub, behind Dallas/Fort Worth but ahead of Miami.

American spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said routing many Latin American flights such as the one to São Paulo through Miami rather than Charlotte makes sense. Miami has a much larger population of people with ties to Latin America, making for stronger local traffic.

“Miami is a prime hub for connecting customers in South America, the Caribbean and Latin America,” said Mohr. “Charlotte is better suited to connect customers to leisure destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico.”

Thursday’s announcement is part of a wider-ranging reshuffle of American’s international schedule this winter. The airline is trimming back some seasonal flights to Europe from Philadelphia and other hubs, and it is adding new flights to Campinos, Brazil, from Miami and New York’s JFK International Airport.

International service has seen some big changes at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the past year. American announced it plans to end its flights from Charlotte to Brazil, but also announced plans to add a second daily flight from Charlotte to London Heathrow Airport. Four new seasonal flights from Charlotte to European cities kicked off this summer but were cut back due to weak demand.

After the Brazilian flights are cut, Charlotte will have nonstop service to three dozen international destinations, about a third of it seasonal.

American’s latest quarterly results showed the airline increased its capacity to Latin America almost 8 percent from last year. But passenger traffic rose only 3 percent. As a result, the airline’s planes averaged about 76 percent full – down from 80 percent full last year.

US Airways began the daily flight from Charlotte to São Paulo in June 2013, using a Boeing 767 jet. The flight now operates on an Airbus A330-200, which seats 258 passengers, 54 more than the Boeing 767.

At the time, the flight was hailed as an important economic development tool, because São Paulo is a major South American business center.

“Uninterrupted, nonstop air service between Charlotte and São Paulo is critical to maintaining our existing trade with Brazil and expanding business opportunities for North Carolina,” Sen. Kay Hagan said last year, in a statement hailing the new flights.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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