Air Comet Chile, known until recently as Aerolíneas del Sur, is now the largest domestic carrier after LAN Chile, with 18% of the market. The figure represents a 10% increase in market-share in just under a year.
Director General Enrique Melía told La Nación that the news "says a lot about the support not only of our passengers, but also from travel agents who see us as a real alternative." Questioned about competition from the other domestic airlines, Mr Melía said "Each of us has to have our own space in the market (?) everything in life is a balance and it seems that, in this case, the balance has shifted our way." The airline has proved popular thanks to a strong focus on customer service. Policies such as extensive catering on all flights, more leg-room, and a small business class section on low-cost flights are believed to be an important part of their success. The company is looking to expand further. On Monday the firm began flights to Concepción in Region VIII, their seventh destination in Chile. Mr Melía said the city was "very important both as a tourist and a business destination." The airline already serves Santiago, Iquique, Antofagasta, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas and Calama and there are further plans to add Temuco and Balmaceda to their list of destination cities. In addition, Air Comet, of which Air Comet Chile is a subsidiary, last week agreed to buy 7 billion US dollars of new Airbus aircraft. A certain number of the new planes are destined to enlarge the company's Chilean fleet. Air Comet was started in 1996 by the Spanish tourism organization Marsans with the purpose of complementing the group's multi-services in the industry. In 1997 Air Comet begins charter flights and in 2001 purchased the Argentine flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas/Austral Currently Air Comet has regular flights from Madrid to Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Lima, Guayaquil, Quito, Bogotá, San Jose de Costa Rica, Santo Domingo, Havana, London, Paris and Rome and is programming other destinations.