At first glance, Volaris, Viva Aerobus and Interjet look very much alike. The three are low-cost carriers. They operate mainly in Mexico along with some international routes. And they all have Airbus fleets. So, which one is better?
They share similar origins
Interjet started in December 2005. Meanwhile, Volaris and Viva Aerobus initiated operations one year later, in March and November 2006, respectively.
At the time, the three low-cost carriers started very small, in a country dominated by two historic airlines; Aeromexico and Mexicana de Aviación. Viva Aerobus operated from Monterrey, the second most important city in Mexico, while Volaris and Interjet were relegated to Toluca International Airport due to the lack of slots at Mexico City’s airport.
After the disappearance of Mexicana in 2010, the three carriers won slots at Mexico City’s Airport and started a decade during which they grew exponentially.
Currently, Volaris is the main domestic operator in Mexico. The carrier outgrew Aeromexico, which is currently constrained by the ongoing MAX crisis. Interjet, even with the debacle of its Sukhoi fleet, reached the 15 million passenger mark in 2019. And Viva had double-digit growth in every operative indicator by the third quarter of last year.
Mexico’s domestic market is booming
Historically, Mexico is a country more connected by ground than by air. Still, like is happening everywhere else in the world, the air industry is taking off. As Luis Felipe de Oliveira, CEO of the Latin American and Caribbean Transport Association pointed out for November 2019,
“The domestic markets of Brazil and Mexico represented 87% of the total growth of domestic passengers in the region”.
For this month, in particular, the Mexican market grew 7.6% accommodating 324,000 additional passengers.
This means that the sky is the limit for Mexican carriers, pun intended. Almost every important airport in the country registered growth in passengers for 2019, except for some hubs like Cozumel in the Mexican Caribbean.
This is the reason that explains the constant battle among low-cost carriers. Currently, Volaris operates 188 total routes, of which 121 are domestic; Viva Aerobus has 119 routes, 100 of them being domestic, and Interjet offers 87 routes, paired almost equally between domestic and international (42 vs 45). Interjet also has an expansion plan for 2020.
Price, seats, scores: let’s settle it
Ok, so we’ve seen that the three low-cost carriers have a good panorama ahead. Now, let’s settle: which one is better?
For comparison, let’s take the biggest route for the Mexican market: Mexico City-Cancun.
Interjet offers a flight almost every hour with four fares. Ultra-Light, which only allows on-board luggage, for $82.44 USD/$1,542 MXN; Light which includes a 25 kg luggage only for flights in Mexico and Latin America for $86.35 USD/$1,615 MXN; Óptima for $115.59 USD/$2,162 MXN and Priority for $197.45 USD/$ 3,693 MXN.
Besides the auction system promoted by Viva Aerobus as reported by local media outlet A21, this carrier offers three fares: Viva Light for $60.90 USD/$ 1,139 MXN; Viva Básico for $61.43 USD/$ 1,149 MXN and Viva Smart for $73.35 USD/$ 1,372 MXN.
Finally, Volaris offers three fares: Basic for $67.31 USD/$ 1,259 MXN; Classic for $85.97 USD/$1,608 MXN and Plus for $91.85 USD/$1,718 USD. In conclusion, advantage Viva.
In terms of seat pitch, Interjet offers 86 cm (34 inches) in all of its fleet, comprised of seven A321neo, six A321, three A320neo, 47 A320 and 22 Sukhoi SuperJet 100. The other two airlines don’t disclose the length of their seats. So, according to SeatGuru, the pitch for Volaris is between 30 and 32 inches and Viva is between 29 and 30 inches. Advantage: Interjet.
Lastly, neither of the carriers is rated by Skytrax, but Airline Quality gives Volaris and Interjet a three out 10 and Viva Aerobus a two out of 10. But, as we saw, the favorite of the flying public in Mexico is, by far, Volaris.
What do you think? Which Mexican LCC is your favorite?