Colombia's Aires sets launch date for Fort Lauderdale service

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Colombian low-cost carrier Aires has set a 25 November launch date for Bogota-Fort Lauderdale, its first of several planned US routes.

Aires, which currently operates mainly domestic services with the exception of a handful of turboprop flights to Panama, Venezuela and the Caribbean, selected Fort Lauderdale as its first US destination early this year. It secured route authorities for Bogota-Fort Lauderdale and Bogota-New York JFK from the US DOT in March but for several months had to hold back on launching either route as it waited for FAA approval to operate into the US.

Aires this week finally began ticket sales for Fort Lauderdale and will operate one daily Boeing 737-700 flight between its Bogota hub and the Florida airport from 25 November. Aires, which had looked at operating flights to the US at night to maximise the utilisation of its new Boeing 737-700 fleet, has decided it will operate from Bogota to Fort Lauderdale in the early morning with the return flight operating in the afternoon.

Aires, which all along has said the planned New York service would follow Fort Lauderdale, has not yet set a launch date for its second US route. Aires says it has the authority to operate five weekly flights between Bogota and New York.

The carrier says it also has secured authority from Colombia's CAA to serve Fort Lauderdale from Barranquilla seven times per week, from Cartagena seven times per week and from Cali four times per week. It also has permission to continue two of the planned seven Fort Lauderdale-Cartagena frequencies to Bucaramanga and three of these frequencies to Pereira.

Aires also has been approved by Colombian authorities to serve Sao Paolo from Bogota four times per week as part of its ambitious international expansion plan.

The carrier, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database, now operates five 149-seat Boeing 737-700s and 14 37-seat and 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops. Its 737-700s have been used since February to launch domestic trunk routes while the Dash 8s are used on regional services domestically and to Panama City, Aruba, Curacao and Maracaibo.

New international routes to the US, Brazil and the Caribbean are planned over the next few months as Aires take five additional 737-700s. Aires also plans to add at least two 70-seat Dash 8 Q400s to its fleet next year.