Colombian budget carrier Viva Air plans to start flying in 2022 from Buenos Aires to Bogotá and Medellín and on to the United States, Mexico City or the Caribbean, it was reported Wednesday.
The company has already been granted the Bogota-Buenos Aires and Medellin-Buenos Aires routes seven times a week by Colombia's aviation authorities and is now taking care of the necessary paperwork with Argentina's ANAC (National Civil Aviation Administration).
The airline's target date in “June or July next year,” Viva Air Group CEO Félix Antelo told the Buenos Aires daily El Cronista.
“We have met with authorities from the Argentine Ministry of Tourism and they are very interested in us starting to operate, due to the visitor traffic that we can bring to the country, Antelo explained.
Initially, we would operate a daily flight: three from Medellín and two from Bogotá per week, or vice versa,” he added.
The Argentine executive, who has worked 18 years for LatAm airlines, was confident in the sucess of the business plan, despite international travel being just bouncing back from the COVID-pandemic setback.
Viva has been eyeing Argentina as a destination since 2019. Several reasons lead us to fly to Argentina. We have a fleet of 21 aircraft, less than a year old, and eight more will arrive in 2022, with the goal of reaching 50 by 2025. They are all Airbus A320 Neo, with 188 seats. With the fleet's growth, we seek to grow in the Colombian domestic market and, also, at new international destinations, such as Argentina,” Antelo pointed out.
“Through our hub in Medellín, we will connect Argentines not only with Colombia, for them to visit Cartagena, San Andrés or Santa Marta, but also with Lima, Miami, Orlando, Cancun, Mexico City and other new destinations that we are going to add in the Caribbean, such as Punta Cana, he stressed.
The airline's low fares are also regarded aas a tool to foster foreign tourism in Argentina, a country which has also announced subsidized tickets on Aerolíneas Argentinas to help travelers from anywhere make up their minds when planning a trip.
Before the pandemic, Argentina was the second most visited destination by Colombians, after Miami. Now, more Colombians will be able to go to Argentina, as well as Mexicans and Americans who connect in Medellín, due to the lower cost. We estimate that the routes will cost Colombians and Argentines between 30% and 50% less than those available today,” Antelo claimed.
So far, only Avianca and Aerolíneas Argentinas fly between Buenos Aires and Bogotá and there is no nonstop service to Medellín.
According to Antelo, tickets to Bogotá cost today between US $ 700 and US $ 1,000; and no less than US $ 1,000 to Miami, while on Viva they would sell for around US $ 300 and US $ 400 to either Bogota or Medellin and for US $ 600 to Miami.
“We are going to continue lowering costs to pass on that reduction to fares; with more flights, the cost is further diluted, the CEO said.
”In Argentina, the challenge is to make ourselves known as a low cost brand and business model. Although there are two low cost operating in Argentina (Flybondi and JetSmart), they operate mainly domestic or nearby regional destinations. There is no international low cost offer” presently, Antelo underscored.
For a second stage, the company also plans to link Colombia with Córdoba.
Regarding tourism's recoveriny from pandemic restrictions, Antelo insisted “Colombia and Mexico are the two markets that recovered the fastest in Latin America. Mexico was open to flights, and Colombia handled the pandemic very well, it opened up at the beginning of 2021. Viva Air has been flying since March of this year, 30% more than in pre-pandemic times. And in the last quarter of this year we will have 70% more...,” he stressed.