The famous tail artwork that has brought some colour to airports across North America and the Caribbean through the operations of Frontier Airlines, will be replicated across South America as Arizona-based investment firm Indigo Partners establishes a new ultra-low-cost operation in Chile. JetSMART will launch operations this year, growing to a fleet of three A320s by the end of the year, and nine by the end of 2018.
Having already successfully helped to establish and develop LCCs such as Wizz Air in Europe and Volaris in Mexico, Indigo Partners plans to play a major role in the continued emergence of the sector across Latin and South America.
“We at Indigo have spent the last 15 years developing and refining this business model and we believe that the arrival of a similar airline in Chile will be well received,” said William Franke, co-founder and managing partner of Indigo Partners and one of the world's most-influential investors in budget airlines.
“In Europe, low-cost airlines account for 40 per cent of all air travel. In the United States, they represent about seven per cent and the market share has grown for these companies by 10.3 per cent in the last three years. By 2034, low-fare operators are expected to account for 21 per cent of the world market,” he added.
JetSMART will adopt the same no frills concept of Indigo’s other entities permitting customers to pay for the services they require in return for a reduced basic air fare. This model has shown a strong stimulation of demand in other parts of the world making flying more affordable for travelers.
“In Chile [we] believe there is an overlooked customer segment wanting to fly, but for the right price,” explained Franke. “Chile is an attractive entry point for the launch of a low-fare carrier, it has economic stability and aviation traffic growth; a growing economy; a supportive and fair regulatory environment; and open skies and strong bilateral treaties with neighbouring countries.”
The airline will be piloted by respected industry executive Estuardo Ortiz, a former executive vice president and chief operating officer at both Avianca and TACA Airlines. “The model at JetSMART will mean lower airfares for all Chileans, which will encourage non-fliers to fly and regular fliers to fly to various points in Chile and beyond,” he explained.
JetSMART made its formal request for an air operator certificate to the Chilean Civil Aviation Authority in January 2017 and will reveal more about its plans, including its operational base once this process has been completed. It remains tight-lipped over its development but is expected to serve a network covering domestic and regional international services.