Colombian low-cost carrier AIRES is seeing such a strong response to its launch of services to South Florida that it is adding more service to the region in preference to opening a second destination in the US.
Speaking to Airline Business at the Network USA event, AIRES station manager Ft Lauderdale Fabio Andrade said: "With our extra flights even though we have got the rights to operate to New York we decided instead of adding our second [US] destination to concentrate on Ft Lauderdale because it has been such a success. The community has really supported us."
Fabio Andrade (left) of AIRES and Ft Lauderdale's Steve Belleme.
AIRES, which operates Boeing 737-700s, began daily service between Ft Lauderdale and Colombian capital Bogota in late November. The carrier has been growing fast in the domestic market and is now branching out into international services.
This month it will add service to Cali and Baranquilla with a further route to Cartagena beginning in July, said Andrade.
"We have been talking to AIRES for a long while about coming in," said Steve Belleme, business development director at Ft Lauderdale International Airport. "There is a large Colombian population in this area and the CVB has been very dynamic in Colombia."
"The Ft Lauderdale market in South Florida is the station of choice of Colombia," said Andrade, who formerly head up JetBlue's operations in Florida. "Ft Lauderdale is non-congested, friendly, it has easy access and is low-cost - not only for us as a tenant but for passengers too."
So far AIRES has had a 94% on-time performance for its US flights and is seeing load factors of 82%. Average round trip fares on the route are $250 to $300 nearly half that charged by network carriers in the past, said Andrade.
Further extra service at Ft Lauderdale in recent times is Virgin America, which began flying between the airport and San Francisco and Los Angeles in November.
In May, German leisure carrier Condor will launch services between Frankfurt and Ft Lauderdale, marking another important new route for the airport, said Belleme.
The Network USA event, organised by Airline Business, is being co-hosted by Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Great Ft Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.