October 25. The global low-cost carrier market is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 8.6% to US $247 billion in 2025. A substantial amount of that growth will be coming from Latin America. Colombia’s ultra-low-cost Viva Air is part of a new breed of carriers that are democratizing travel in Latin America. Viva Air intends to open fifteen new routes in the 2022 – 2025 time frame, including new flights from its hub in Medellin to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Curacao and Aruba. Other new destinations are also planned out of Bogota. In North America, Viva Air has been flying for four years to Miami and has a four-month-old route to Orlando. The airline expects to add flight routes to New York and Toronto.
Aligned with Viva Air’s expansion plans is the company’s rebranding. Formerly known as Viva Colombia, in May 2021, the company rebranded as Viva Air to facilitate its development throughout the region, while inviting consumers to “Fly More”.
Ryanair, the ultra-low-cost Irish carrier, is the majority owner of Viva Air and wants to replicate the Ryan Air model in Latin America. According to Felix Antelo, CEO of Viva Air, there are “key differences that need to be taken into account to adapt the Ryan Air model to our reality.” One of these differences is that Ryan Air takes cash payments: “Approximately 20% of sales are in cash, many of our customers do not have a credit card. We integrated cash payment methods for our customers in our offering,” Antelo notes. Another key difference is that 20% to 25% of Viva Air’s sales come from OTA’s (online travel agencies), versus approximately 10% for Ryan Air, which sells 90% of its tickets directly through its own website. “We sell more than 70% of our tickets on our website, that is a very high number for Latin America, but we do need the OTA’s,” Antelo asserts.