Amid pandemic, low-cost carrier JetSmart adds routes in Argentina

The sector now carries a quarter of the passengers that flew across the country a year ago. However, the Chilean airline, which doubled its share, is now operating more flights than before the pandemic.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With a larger operation than before the pandemic and an improved share in the domestic market, JetSmart hopes for the reactivation of the tourist industry and seeks to take advantage of the void left by the departure of LATAM Airlines from the country last June.

The low-cost carrier, which in April will have been operating in Argentina for 2 years, announced the launching of 2 new routes from Buenos Aires, to Corrientes and Posadas, in addition to the 15 routes it has in that market, with connections to 13 destinations in the country.

The Chilean airline, which doubled its share, is now operating more flights than before the pandemic. (Photo internet reproduction)

These are two routes that the airline has never flown before, which will now have two weekly frequencies from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, the airport to which it moved its operation after the closure of El Palomar.

The Buenos Aires-Posadas route is added to the one that connects the capital with Iguazú and will start operating on June 22nd, with flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. On the other hand, Buenos Aires-Corrientes will start operating on June 25th, with flights on Mondays and Fridays.

This was confirmed at a press conference on Thursday by the company’s CEO, Estuardo Ortiz, alongside general manager, Gonzalo Pérez Corral, and commercial manager, Darío Ratinoff, in which they made a diagnosis of the market and the company’s situation. The governor of Misiones, Oscar Herrera Ahuad, and the Minister of Tourism of Corrientes, Sebastián Slobayen, also participated.

The announcement is made in a context of a 74.4% drop in the number of passengers carried by the Argentine domestic market during the first two months of the year, 681,000 in the period January-February 2021 versus 2.66 million in the same period, after a year that closed with a 77.7% drop, according to data from the National Administration of Civil Aviation (ANAC).

Although the company has not confirmed, for the moment, the launching of other routes, it is evaluating this possibility, together with the provincial authorities, as well as the incorporation of more aircraft to its fleet, subject to the behavior of the demand. In addition, it is awaiting authorization for the overnight parking of its fourth Airbus A320 aircraft at the Metropolitan Airport, now overnighting at Ezeiza.

“2021 will be a year of transition”, stated Ortiz, and stressed that this process is based on two pillars: the bet on the low-cost model, which proved to be “the most profitable and agile”, and the diversification of routes. For the time being, the government has not notified them of any restrictions on domestic flights.

In this sense, according to the CEO, the inclusion of the two new routes is part of the company’s strategy to achieve its recovery, which is already showing positive signs. For Easter, JetSmart estimates a high level of occupancy, with Iguazú and Patagonia being the most sought-after destinations.

JetSmart increased its operations by 2%

Despite the adverse context, the Chile-based firm owned by U.S. holding Indigo Partners increased its domestic operation by 2% compared to the same time last year, with a 90% punctuality rate: it expects to close the first quarter with a total of 1549 domestic flights, compared to 1514 in the first three months of 2020.

The sector now carries a quarter of the passengers that flew across the country a year ago. (Photo internet reproduction)

Also, according to ANAC data, it doubled its share in the domestic market compared to a year ago. In February, it was second, with a 15% share, behind Aerolíneas Argentinas, with 75%, and ahead of Flybondi, with 8%.

On the other hand, in the second month of last year, it was fourth in terms of share (7%), behind Aerolíneas Argentinas (59%), LATAM (17%), and Flybondi (9%). It should be clarified that, until then, the ANAC separately classified Norwegian (7%), whose local subsidiary acquired JetSmart in December 2019.

Regarding the closure of El Palomar, Pérez Corral, the company’s general manager in the country, referred to the future of this terminal and assured that they are “respectful of what was dictated”. “That is why we are now going to Aeroparque. We are waiting for the resolution of the temporary closure and, based on that, we will see where to distribute the growth. We want to grow and we know there are opportunities,” he concluded.

It is worth remembering that Norwegian, before its sale to JetSmart, already operated at Aeroparque, a benefit that the low-cost carrier inherited after the acquisition.

Source: Diario Financeiro

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