JetSMART Seeks Regulatory Approval For Colombia Affiliate

The airline group already operates carriers in three South American countries.

Credit: Pedro Suarez/Alamy Stock Photo

Chile-based ULCC group JetSMART has requested authorization to launch domestic services in Colombia.

JetSMART Colombia would be the fourth domestic operation for the Indigo Partners-backed airline group, following affiliates in Chile (where JetSMART made its debut in 2017), Argentina (where it started services in 2019) and Peru (launched earlier in 2022). 

The company has asked for permission to operate 111 routes to 22 Colombian airports. JetSMART stated that 91 of the requested routes do not touch crowded Bogota El Dorado (BOG), the home airport for Avianca, the country’s largest airline 

JetSMART argued space should be freed up at BOG so it and other carriers can offer more flights and better fares to Colombians.

Avianca and Colombian ULCC Viva recently offered to give up slots at El Dorado in order to gain approval from the government for their proposed merger.  The offer came after Colombian regulators rejected Avianca and Viva’s plan to merge earlier this month after concluding the tie-up could be damaging to competition. 

Avianca first proposed acquiring Viva in April of this year. In August, Avianca and Viva asked for expedited antitrust approval from the Colombian government, citing Viva’s delicate financial situation. 

JetSMART has been expressing interest in creating a subsidiary in Colombia for some time. The airline group began serving Colombia at the end of 2019 with the launch of flights from Santiago (SCL) in Chile to BOG, Cali (CLO) and Medellin (MDE). JetSMART also operates service between Antofagasta (ANF) in Chile and CLO. 

The airline group is attempting to break into the Colombian market after another ULCC upstart, Ultra Air, made its debut in the country in February 2022.