How Colombia Is Shaping Up For A V-Shaped Recovery

So far, the Colombian airline industry is having one of the best recoveries worldwide from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to OAG, Colombia currently has a scheduled capacity of 23.8% below its pre-pandemic numbers, the second-best in Latin America, only behind Mexico. But, how has this country been able to have a quick comeback? We see three trends. Let’s investigate further.

Colombia is already 23.8% below its pre-pandemic capacity. Photo: Getty Images

Colombia’s international boom

The South American country is becoming a tourist trend. Recently, ProColombia (the local tourism board) announced the government had approved the launch of 20 international routes for this year alone. So far, eight have already begun.

These eight new routes connect Colombian cities like Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, and Medellin with different countries like Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the US.

Flavia Santoro, ProColombia president, said in a statement,

“Recover the Colombian air connectivity was one of the priorities of the economic reactivation. Now, we can say: 20 airlines are connecting eight Colombian cities with 20 different countries. They offer 498 weekly frequencies and have available up to 89,000 seats.”

The new routes that have already begun are:

  1. JetBlue, New York-Bogota
  2. Wingo, Cancun-Medellin
  3. American Airlines, New York-Bogota, New York-Medellin, and New York-Cali
  4. Viva Air, Cancun-Medellin, Bogota-Mexico City, and Orlando, Medellin.

Plus, LATAM also is planning to operate Guayaquil-Bogota this month; Wingo is looking to start Lima-Bogota.

In July, Avianca two routes from Medellin to Cancun and Punta Cana; JetSMART will launch Medellin-Santiago de Chile; and Wingo will launch Medellin-Punta Cana and Cali-Cancun.

Finally, in August, JetBlue will launch Newark-Cartagena; Viva Air, Medellin-Mexico City, and Viva Aerobus, Bogota-Mexico City.

Mexico’s low-cost Volaris is also planning to connect Mexico City and Cancun with Bogota. So far, it hasn’t announced a launch date.

Viva Air Colombia
Viva Air has had a boom in the last few months, launching new routes. Photo: Getty Images

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Colombia reduces travel restrictions

Earlier this month, the Colombian authorities relaxed the travel restrictions throughout the country.

According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, the local health authorities eliminated two entry requirements. International travelers no longer have to arrive with a negative PCR test going into Colombia.

Additionally, Colombian citizens won’t be required to download the Coronapp to travel domestically. These two developments open Colombia up for international travel big time.

Some travel requirements are still in place, though. First, passengers arriving must fill an immigration form before boarding their flights. Second, the use of face covers is mandatory at Colombian airports. Also, and this one is odd, passengers must try to remain silent while in the airport or onboard an aircraft, said El Tiempo.

Finally, international travelers must inform their health status on arrival and deliver information regarding where they are staying in Colombia.

Despite this good news, Colombia is currently facing political unrest and at least 27 people have died, while 100 remain missing, according to civil rights organizations.

Wingo Getty
Wingo, Copa Airline’s branch in Colombia, is also increasing its connectivity. Photo: Getty Images.

The low-cost boom

Finally, to fully understand Colombia’s V-shaped recovery, we have to take a look at the low-cost boom. While Avianca and LATAM are under Chapter 11 processes, Viva Air is soaring up.

This low-cost operator is already in a close battle to become the second-largest airline, by traffic figures, in Colombia. So far, in 2021, the airline has carried 1.30 million passengers in Colombia. Viva Air is 13% below its 2019 levels at the moment.

Meanwhile, LATAM Colombia has carried 1.34 million passengers in 2021, 16% below its pre-pandemic numbers. Meanwhile, Avianca has had 2.02 million travelers.

So far, Viva Air has launched several new routes. It is planning to become a low-cost hub operator from Medellin International Airport.

In the meantime, several international low-cost airlines are also eyeing Colombia. The Mexican carriers Volaris and Viva Aerobus plan to launch flights to Bogota and Medellin; JetBlue is connecting New York with Bogota; JetSMART also has plans in Colombia. Finally, there may be a Colombian low-cost startup coming up shortly.

Do you expect Colombia to become a bigger aviation market in South America? Let us know in the comments.