As published by Conde Nast Traveler, Vivaerobus wants to take over the Low Budget Airline Market in Latin America.
Jetting around Europe and Asia on the cheap is easy thanks to low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Air Asia that have opened the skies for budget-conscious travelers. In Latin America? Not so much. While there are a few local low-cost airlines like Interjet and Volaris, the most common way to “jet” around Latin America is by long-haul bus. As comfortable as such coaches have become, they’re not the most convenient option for today’s time-conscious traveler who wants to see a lot on a short trip.
Enter Grupo Viva, a new airline consortium from Irelandia Aviation, the developer of Ryanair, and Grupo IAMSA, the largest bus company in Mexico. The group is promising to cut airfares across Latin America, with most of its one-way flights priced under $100. It’s been flying in Mexico since 2006, under the name VivaAerobus. A sister operation, branded as VivaColombia, started service 2012. All told, Grupo Viva currently has 20 planes in Mexico and seven in Colombia.
On board, the experience is spartan, with as many as 186 seats on an A320 jet. (Spirit Airlines, by comparison, has 178 on its version of the aircraft.) “The more seats you can put in, the lower the cost per seat, and the lower the price we can charge,” said Joe Mohan, Grupo Viva’s president, during a November interview with Condé Nast Traveler. So far, passengers don’t seem to mind, particularly because flying saves so much time compared to taking the bus, Mohan said. “In Mexico, the average flight is about 500 miles, so they’re fairly short,” he added.
Now, after establishing the model, the airline group is looking to grow. “Both carriers have international routes and have expanded those routes in the past year,” says Mohan. “In the case of VivaColombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru flights launched in the past year.” For U.S. passengers, there are now flights between Monterrey and both Houston and San Antonio. Service between Monterrey and Las Vegas started in December.
There are more yet to come: VivaAerobus made a massive order for 52 Airbus A320s in 2013, and those planes will start flying this year, with eight entering service in 2015 and the rest rolling out over the next five years. The first expansion into a new country should come this year, Mohan says.
And that will just be the start.
“We should be able to establish a new Viva every 12 months,” Mohan said.