The Future Of South American Air Travel With Viva Air

Air travel in South America appears to be shifting towards the low-cost and ultra-low-cost airlines like Colombia’s Viva Air. In the last year, Viva Air, among other low-cost competitors in the continent, have increased their market shares and become key players within their countries.

The Colombian ULCC Viva Air has increased its market share in the country in 2021. Photo: Viva Air

Viva Air’s growth

The Colombian low-cost carrier Viva Air has increased its domestic and international presence throughout Latin America. Today, for instance, it announced its tenth international route, between Medellin and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Currently, the airline flies to the US, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and within Colombia.

In October 2021, Viva Air handled 502,617 passengers, according to Colombia Civil Aviation Authority’s stats. That number represents a 40% growth compared to Viva’s traffic levels a couple of years ago. So far, the airline has had 3.9 million passengers in 2021.

In 2021, Viva launched 14 new routes (six international and eight domestic). The airline has operated over 400,000 flights. The top three international destinations for the carrier have been Miami, Lima, and Mexico City. Nonetheless, the future seems bright for the company.

The Medellín hub

Unlike other Colombian carriers, Viva Air doesn’t have its hub in Bogota. It mostly flies from Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city. From there, Viva is increasing its domestic and international connectivity.

The grand goal is to turn Medellin into a low-cost hub that allows Viva to connect North and South America with one stop.

During a keynote interview at Simple Flying’s Future Flying Forum, Viva Air’s CEO, Félix Antelo, explained the company’s plans in Medellín.

“From an international perspective, here in Medellin, we have a very privileged geographical position. We’re in the middle of the continent. And with our fleet, the A320neo, we are able to fly from the deep south of the continent, from Buenos Aires, Santiago, Montevideo to Medellin, and from Medellin up to Toronto in Canada or New York, with only one stop. There are airlines that already do that, and others that fly non-stop, but they don’t fly at a low price.”

Last month, Viva received authorization to launch 65 new routes from Colombia. More than half of these new routes are international, connecting with several cities in the US, but also to key Latin American and Caribbean destinations like Brazil, Panama, Aruba, and more. So far, the carrier has started operations in three of these routes: Cali-Mexico City, Cali-Cancun, and Medellin-Punta Cana. More will come.

Latin America’s low-cost power

The low-cost carriers have rebounded faster than legacy airlines throughout the world, but maybe the best example is in Latin America.

In this region, operators like Volaris, Viva Aerobus, and Viva Air are already exceeding their pre-pandemic traffic levels.

These carriers have leveraged from several key factors like a lower cost base, open borders, and the recovery of the domestic, leisure, and VFR markets.

Like Félix Antelo pointed out,

“It has to do with our model (our success this year). We knew that the ULCC and LCC models were going to come out stronger from this pandemic. We knew it from the start because this happened in previous crises. The customer that was going to return first was the passenger that flies for tourism, the VFR customer, and that corporate traveler was going to be the last to come.”

Have you traveled on Viva Air? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. 

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