Felix Antelo
CEO & President
Viva Air
Expert Contributor

Navigating Turbulence in the Aviation Sector

By Felix Antelo | Mon, 08/15/2022 - 15:00

We find ourselves in a historic moment for the global economy, directly impacting our daily lives. Both the dollar and fuel – critical elements for commercial aviation – continue to touch record highs. Undoubtedly, this creates a complex scenario for Colombian aviation and for the global industry in general.

At Viva, our mission is and will continue to be creating mechanisms that allow us to be more competitive and cost efficient, while providing good service. Our “Super Low Cost” model, in which the passenger pays only for what he or she needs, is essential to achieving this. We also have a single aircraft type, which means the same set of spare parts and crew training; a very modern fleet of aircraft recognized as the youngest in Colombia, the second-youngest in South America and the fourth globally, with the low-cost model rooted in our DNA. All of this allows us to directly offer lower prices for passengers while generating our “Viva Effect,” a significant reduction in fares across the board on the routes where we operate.

We have always believed that the key to the company's sustainability lies in our ability to adapt, enabling us to find opportunities in challenging times. At Viva, we are focused on the constant search for innovation, which translates into reducing costs in favor of the passenger, increasing revenues with new products, new routes to improve connectivity and access to air transport in the region, and improving the efficiency of our processes to stay true to the promise of democratizing the skies and flying at a super-low cost.

We are navigating a duality in which demand is strong, though it is beginning to be hit by the macroeconomic scenario. Although the immediate-term outlook seems challenging, it is important to note that we are facing a competitive context in which Colombia is one of the markets that has grown the most in the world in terms of passengers and seats offered versus pre-pandemic. This invites us to continue evaluating business cases that allow us to maximize profitability, leading us to consolidate our position as the leading low-cost airline in Colombia and Peru.

Aligned with our purpose of promoting air inclusion in the region, and adapting to new ways of managing the business, 2022 has had a strong international component in which we have inaugurated seven new routes to cities that include Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Caribbean beach destinations of Cancun and Punta Cana, reaching a total of 13 international routes throughout the Americas.

We currently operate 43 domestic routes in Colombia and Peru, and 13 international destinations to the US, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Argentina. This is thanks to our 'Super Low Cost' model in which we are experts, which has allowed more and more passengers to travel in and out of the country, and more foreigners to experience how wonderful Colombia is through our entire network of domestic routes.

One of the keys to our success is, without a doubt, our “HUB Medellin” connection hub, which allows us to make simple and expeditious connections in an average time of 1 hour and 15 minutes. Thinking of Medellin as a HUB was a winning strategy that enabled us to centralize our operations due to its privileged geographical location in the center of the Americas. It is the second-largest city in Colombia, it has excellent tourist traffic favoring the airline, and it allows us to relieve the high traffic and congestion through Bogota. This is why we have made strengthening it a priority.

Mexico, one of the first countries in our focus to expand international routes from the beginning of our operations, demonstrates this stability and growth. Therefore today, Viva is second in terms of the most seats between both countries, and with five routes, we are among the airlines with the most direct links.

True to its spirit of innovation, in May of this year, Viva launched its cargo business for export to Mexico from Bogota and Medellin on the daily passenger flights we operate. One of our objectives is to close negotiations with Mexican freight agencies to begin moving cargo from Mexico to Colombia as well.  At the end of the year, we project moving around 500 tons of cargo on the route.

This is why we talk about adaptation because, in short, both we and the airline industry in general are impacted by “turbulence," such as external factors, local conditions, and the volatility of the world economy, challenging us to not only resist the crosswinds but also to continue moving forward.

We are convinced that each year will bring greater and unexpected challenges, which we will be able to overcome with the help of our people, our flexibility, our ability to anticipate and react, and of course, the conviction to maintain our promise of value based on the Super Low Cost model. With our 10 years of experience in the market, we ensure that Viva will continue implementing our strategy of national and international expansion with the 30 new routes that we hope to launch in the coming years and new tailwinds that will accompany us along the journey.

Photo by:   Felix Antelo