Colombian ULCC Viva has revealed plans to enter Latin America’s largest aviation market as the airline continues to join up more dots across the continent.
The carrier, which recently signed an interline agreement with Mexico’s Viva Aerobus, intends to begin flying to Brazil's business capital São Paulo this summer. Flights will connect Medellín (MDE) and São Paulo/Guarulhos (GRU) three times per week from June 22.
“The opening of this new destination is very important: it strengthens our hub in Medellín as a global hub, which will allow Brazilians to connect directly with Cartagena, San Andres, Santa Marta, among many other destinations in the domestic network and international destinations such as Cancun, Punta Cana, and Mexico City,” Viva CEO Félix Antelo said.
The new international route is part of Viva’s ambition to grow its footprint on regional routes in Latin America, taking share from legacy carriers. Speaking to Routes in 2021, Antelo said the airline sees a big opportunity the ULCC to increase its presence outside of Colombia’s domestic market.
To capitalize on this, Viva is building its presence in Medellín, the second-largest city in Colombia. The “Hub Medellín” project hopes to make air connections from the city as important as ones from capital Bogota's El Dorado International (BOG).
New services launched from Medellín over the past 12 months include flights to Mexico City (MEX), Cancun (CUN) and Orlando (MCO). The carrier is also increasing its domestic offer over the coming weeks with plans to open six new services from MDE as part of a wider 14-route expansion plan.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that Avianca and LATAM Airlines Group are currently the sole providers of nonstop flights between Colombia and Brazil. Each airline connects São Paulo/Guarulhos and Bogota, while Avianca also offers Bogota-Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) service.
There are currently 7,400 two-way weekly seats operating between the two countries (w/c Feb. 21, 2022), compared with 12,100 this time two years ago before the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak had reached Latin America.
Viva’s 4,567-km (2,838-mi.) route from Medellín to São Paulo will therefore become the only connection to Brazil from a Colombian city other than Bogota, and the airline will become the solitary provider of low-cost capacity.
O&D traffic between Medellín and São Paulo totaled 26,500 two-way passengers in 2019—all of whom traveled indirectly. Viva will be hoping to capture this traffic, as well as attracting passengers from other parts of Colombia who will be able to fly on its network through Medellín.
On Feb. 23, Routes reported on the launch of new Colombian ULCC Ultra Air, which hopes to challenge Viva on domestic routes. Viva is currently the country’s third largest operator of domestic capacity with a 22% market share.