The Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas is set to see increased connectivity with the Argentine mainland after airlines from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay were courted over their interest in developing a service to their respective countries albeit with a stopover in Argentina.

A Falklands government statement issued last week said a letter that had been jointly signed by the UK and Argentine governments, had been dispatched to UK embassies in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, requesting “assistance in contacting airlines in their respective countries, to invite them to communicate their interest in establishing a new weekly scheduled air service to and from the Falkland Islands.”

Interested operators are asked to submit their proposals by the end of February following which a commercially-based determination process will be undertaken by the Falklands government.

The overall objective is to secure one additional flight per week, including a monthly stop in Argentina, once in each direction, before the end of 2018. Government hopes to have the final contract negotiations completed over the [southern] winter months. The new air link is therefore expected to be operational in October this year where it will complement an existing weekly LATAM Airlines-operated service between Mount Pleasant and Punta Arenas, Chile, which stops over in Rio Gallegos, Argentina once a month.

“This additional air link will unlock the potential for Falkland Island businesses to flourish and, in turn, bring about wider economic and social benefits for our local population," the Falkland Islands' Chief Executive, Barry Rowland, said. "The commercial process will be carefully managed by the Falkland Islands, together with our appointed specialist contractors ‘Aviation Economics’. This is an exciting time and we are looking forward to exploring the opportunities to work with new and existing partners to improve the experience of everyone travelling to this beautiful part of the world by air.”

More frequent, direct flights between the Falkland Islands and Argentina have been a contentious issue given the events of the 1982 Falklands War in which Argentina attempted to annex the British overseas territory, located 480 km east of Patagonia. To commemorate the conflict, and in light of improved diplomatic relations between Buenos Aires and London, the Argentine government is said to be organizing a charter flight to the Falklands for relatives of the 88 Argentine combatants buried in Darwin whose remains were recently identified by a team on international forensic experts. Operations are onboard a pair of Andes Líneas Aéreas (OY, Salta) MD-83s.

Citing official sources, the Clarin newspaper said earlier this month that the delegation would be led by the Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, and should take place before April 2.