The Chilean ultra-low-cost JetSMART is looking to add a new base in Colombia and will have a public audience on November 24 to review the possibility of launching this new branch. It would be JetSMART’s fourth domestic operation (it already flies in Chile, Argentina, and Peru) if approved.

JetSMART’s growth plans

JetSMART launched domestic services in Peru earlier this year, opening its third branch across South America. The Chilean ULCC is interested in adding new branches and has now set in motion its plans to open a base in Colombia.

According to JetSMART’s filing, the airline expects to open up a base at Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG). It would operate scheduled passenger services from this hub and have a fleet of up to 12 Airbus A320neo aircraft, which would be delivered in the next three years. JetSMART currently has one of the largest unfilled orders in the Americas. The airline expects to receive 105 additional Airbus A320-family-based aircraft in the coming years, including 14 Airbus A321XLRs.

Additionally, JetSMART Colombia would be looking to operate 111 domestic routes, which would depart from cities such as Bogota (15 routes), Medellín (eight routes), Cartagena (11 routes), and more.

Simple Flying reached out to JetSMART for comment. The airline declined to comment.

A JetSMART aircraft

Photo: JetSMART.

Against whom would it compete in Colombia?

Colombia is a market with plenty of domestic airlines at the moment. Moreover, the ULCC segment is well-covered with carriers such as Viva Colombia, Wingo, and Ultra Air. This South American country currently has Avianca, LATAM, Viva, Wingo, SATENA, EasyFly, and Ultra Air. While Colombia has had one of the fastest recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic (it already has more traffic than in 2019), it is only a matter of time before the country reaches a ceiling.

That ceiling may be closer than we think. Viva’s CEO, Félix Antelo, has previously stated that the airline industry in the region is trending towards consolidating. Viva and Avianca have been looking to merge under one holding since August. Moreover, Colombia’s dynamism in 2021 and 2022 may stop next year. Recently, the Latin America & Caribbean Air Transport Association revealed that,

“Colombian domestic air transport may experience some loss on its dynamism, mainly because the VAT or sales tax tariff, which was temporarily reduced from 19% to 5% as a measure to drive tourism during the pandemic, will return to its pre-pandemic levels. This measure drove demand, and evidence shows that passengers react to prices.”

JetSMART Colombia would face a challenging and competitive environment – not only because of Viva, Wingo, and Ultra Air but also because of Avianca. Since emerging from Chapter 11 last year, the historic Colombian carrier is shifting towards a low-cost model.

A JetSMART aircraft

Photo: JetSMART.

JetSMART increased connectivity this winter

Finally, intending to meet the high demand expected for South America’s summer season, JetSMART is looking to increase the number of frequencies in November throughout the region.

In particular, JetSMART is looking to increase its international connectivity to Colombia. The airline will add frequencies on the four routes between Chile and Colombia. In the case of the Santiago-Bogota and Santiago-Cali routes, they will increase from four to seven weekly frequencies. Meanwhile, the route Antofagasta-Cali will increase from three to four weekly frequencies flying on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. And the Santiago-Medellín route will be resumed with an additional frequency, remaining at three on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Are you interested in seeing a new ultra-low-cost carrier operating in Colombia? Do you think there’s room for one more? Let us know in the comments below.


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