Disruptor? Volaris El Salvador On Its Central America Plans

The Mexican ultra-low-cost carrier Volaris recently opened up a new branch in Central America called Volaris El Salvador. The latest addition has already launched a couple of routes from San Salvador International Airport and aims to become the low-cost operator in the region. How will it become a disruptor? Let’s investigate further.

Volaris El Salvador
Volaris recently launched its newest branch in El Salvador. Photo: Volaris

Volaris El Salvador

On September 15, Volaris El Salvador took to the skies for the very first time. The carrier operated the route San Salvador-Mexico City onboard an Airbus A320neo aircraft. From Mexico City, travelers can easily connect with the airline’s many destinations in Mexico, the United States, and even Colombia.

Volaris El Salvador (IATA code, N3) currently has only one aircraft, an Airbus A320neo, according to ch-aviation. It also expects to receive an additional A320-200 in the next few months.

Following the San Salvador-Mexico City route, Volaris El Salvador has launched a couple more flights. It is currently connecting Cancun and San Salvador with two weekly frequencies on Fridays and Sundays. Additionally, it is also operating the route San Salvador-San Pedro Sula in Honduras, with six weekly flights.

Volaris El Salvador
Volaris El Salvador will operate many routes throughout Central America. Photo: Volaris

Volaris Costa Rica

Central America doesn’t have low-cost carriers. Panama has Copa Airlines and Air Panama; Costa Rica and El Salvador have Avianca branches; Guatemala has TAG Airlines; Honduras has CM Airlines. None of these carriers operates under the low-cost model, leaving a niche of opportunity that Volaris is willing to explore.

Firstly, Volaris launched a branch in Costa Rica. In this country, it has a fleet of three Airbus A319-100 planes.

Volaris Costa Rica (IATA code, Q6) has several scheduled routes across Central America. For instance, it flies from San José to Cancún, Guatemala, Mexico City, and San Salvador. From Guatemala, it connects to Los Angeles, Mexico City, San Salvador, and San José. Additionally, from San Salvador, the airline goes to Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and San José, according to Cirium’s database.

In October 2021, Volaris Costa Rica has 273 scheduled flights, offering 39,312 seats across the region. Unlike its Mexican counterpart, Volaris Costa Rica hasn’t bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still operating 38.5% below its pre-pandemic levels.

Avianca A320
Avianca also has a branch in El Salvador. Photo: Getty Images

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How can Volaris El Salvador disrupt Central America?

During Volaris’ second-quarter investors’ call, the airline’s CEO, Enrique Beltranena, spoke about the Central America opportunity. He said,

“We are on track to launch Volaris El Salvador by the late third quarter to complement our presence in Costa Rica and enable us to take advantage of route rights from El Salvador, the biggest Central American VFR markets to the US.”

The airline is trying to diversify its revenue base, expanding from only the Mexican market. Volaris also wants to generate more US dollars- denominated revenues while maintaining low operating costs. Additionally, Volaris wants to “take advantage of market opportunities left by weaker competitors in the region,” said Beltranena.

Avianca is currently in Chapter 11. Copa Airlines is bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not particularly a direct competitor with Volaris. Instead, Copa is a hub airline, carrying people all across Latin America through its base in Panama’s Tocumen International Airport. All the other operators are regional carriers that won’t be able to compete directly with Volaris’ cost base structure.

What do you think about Volaris launching an airline in El Salvador? Let us know in the comments.