Buoyed by the success of its operations in Argentina and Chile, ultra-low-cost carrier JetSMART is preparing to expand its services in Peru in 2021. The airline usually flies in from various points in Chile. But now, capitalizing on growth in the local market and several airline bankruptcies, JetSMART wants to start operating on Peruvian domestic routes next year.
JetSMART plans 10 to 15 domestic routes in Peru
The airline plans to focus on regional routes within Peru in addition to operating services out of the capital, Lima. JetSMART CEO Estuardo Ortiz says he expects to start with 10 to 15 domestic routes.
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“We have started the process to have a Peruvian airline, with which we seek to have domestic routes to operate by the first half of 2021. The Peruvian market is healthy and has grown by about 10% in recent years, and there is a young people’s tendency to travel again,” Mr Ortiz told La Republica last week.
Before border closures kicked in, JetSMART operated five routes into Peru; Santiago-Lima, Santiago-Trujillo, Santiago-Arequipa, Concepción-Lima, and Antofagasta-Lima. The airline has been eyeing Peru’s domestic market for some time. However, a rapidly evolving aviation environment has seen those plans brought forward.
“The crisis that the industry is going through has tested the effectiveness of our ultra-low-cost, flexible, and efficient model.
“It has been an opportunity to innovate and explore new businesses that we did not consider for now, diversifying our expansion plan and participation in the region,” said Mr Oztiz.
According to Estuardo Ortiz, the new JetSMART operation aims to generate further demand rather than snatch any existing market share.
A fast-evolving aviation environment in Peru
The two airlines that dominate aviation in Peru, LATAM and Avianca, have both filed for bankruptcy protection. The local domestic airline, LC Peru, stopped flying in late 2018. Last year, Peruvian Airlines also ceased operations.
Adding a layer of complexity are the current border closures and the travel downturn. Peru’s international borders are presently closed until the end of July. Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport is re-opening to domestic passengers, but international operations are restricted to repatriation flights.
However, JetSMART is looking beyond the here and now. Avianca has cut its services in a struggle to survive. That leaves 700,000 fewer seats available across Peru’s domestic network each year.
Existing Peruvian low-cost carriers Viva Air Peru and SKY Airline Peru flooded the market with capacity in 2019. Before 2020, Peru’s aviation market was growing and changing. Notwithstanding the present problems, JetSMART sees potential in Peru and wants a slice of the pie.
JetSMART wants to keep it simple
“Our proposal is simple, and we hope it is at this stage a positive contribution to connectivity, tourism, and employment in Peru. An opportunity has opened up in the market with the exit of some operators, and we are ready to take advantage of it,” Estuardo Ortiz told Routes Online.
Meanwhile, JetSMART Argentina is also eyeing the route between Lima and Buenos Aires. A bilateral air services agreement puts a cap on the number of flights operating between the two countries. Previously LATAM Argentina ran seven of those flights. But with that airline quitting the route, JetSMART wants a piece of the action. It has applied to Peru’s Civil Aviation Authority to operate flights between Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires and Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport.