Colombia’s Viva Air Sees Benefits Arising From The Current Crisis

The Colombian low-cost carrier Viva Air Colombia is confident that it will be able to expand its international and domestic services. Felix Antelo, Viva Air CEO, expects good growth after the coronavirus pandemic ends, and Colombia opens up its airspace. Let’s investigate further. 

Viva Air
Viva Air is confident that it will grow after the pandemic ends. Photo: Primx28 via Wikimedia Commons.

Avianca’s predicament is an opportunity for Viva

Last year, Viva Air Colombia was the third leading player in the Colombian air market. In 2019, Avianca had over 56% of the market share, while LATAM had 18%, and Viva Air Colombia had 14%. 

Currently, Viva Air is in a better position, even when the country is closed due to the current pandemic. As we know, Avianca opted for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy a couple of weeks ago. At the same time, LATAM Airlines recently announced the layoff of 1,400 employees

In an interview with Finance Colombia, Felix Antelo said that the low-cost airline would be able to take advantage of its competitors. He added, 

“We are going to be able to expand our service on international routes and domestic routes, and why? Because we have the most efficient structure. The most efficient aircraft operating in Colombia is the Airbus A320.”

Avianca Getty
Avianca and LATAM are currently struggling in South America. Photo: Getty Images.

What happens in Peru?

Since 2017, Viva Air has operated domestic flights in Peru. By July 2019, the low-cost airline held the second spot in the local passenger share. LATAM Airlines Peru was still the unmovable leader with 61.8%, and Viva had a 12.4% share. After it, Peruvian Airlines had 11.5%, Avianca a 5.3%, and Star Peru a 2.3%. But, as we now know, Avianca will stop its operations in Peru, which opens its share for all the other players. 

Still, for Felix Antelo, Avianca’s departure doesn’t create a lot of opportunities, at least in the domestic market. According to the CEO, by early 2019, Avianca had shrunk from the domestic market and practically disappeared, so its exit would not change much. 

Nevertheless, he thinks there could be some new opportunities in the international market. It is currently unclear what will happen with the international routes Avianca flew with its Peruvian subsidiary. But Viva Air is not jumping the gun on this subject. Felix Antelo still wants to see how the global market will evolve in South America.  

One thing is sure: the Peruvian Association of International Air Transport Carriers expects significant growth from low-cost airlines. These carriers could take up to 30% of the market share in Peru

Viva Air
Viva Air is one of the booming low-cost airlines in Peru. Photo: Pedro Felipe via Wikimedia Commons.

Viva Air, a brief history

The investment fund Irelandia Aviation developed Viva Air Colombia under the same principles as Ryanair. The airline started operating in Colombia back in 2012 with a low-cost model. In 2017 it began its operations in Peru. Its founder is William Shaw, who is currently the CEO of Mexican troubled airline Interjet.

Irelandia has successfully developed five low-cost carriers across the world, the most known being Ryanair. In Australia, the company created Tiger Airways, in the US it launched Allegiant Air and in Mexico, Viva Aerobus

Currently, Viva Air Colombia has a fleet of 22 aircraft plus three on order. Its main hub is in Medellin International Airport, and it is an all Airbus-based airline. Before the pandemic, Viva Air Colombia served 13 domestic destinations and three international destinations, including Miami. 

Will the current pandemic eventually help Viva Air Colombia? Let us know in the comments.