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Latin America to get third Viva airline by end-2015

New airline holding company Grupo Viva plans to launch another Viva-branded low-cost carrier in Latin America by the end of 2015, and will transition VivaAerobus' major Airbus A320 order to its books.

This will allow the group flexibility to allocate aircraft to individual Viva airlines based on demand and market conditions, Grupo Viva's chief operating officer Joe Mohan tells Flightglobal.

Grupo Viva is in talks with Airbus to take over VivaAerobus' order of 52 A320 family aircraft, first announced in 2013. "We have actively been engaged with Airbus... They are very supportive," says Mohan. The order also includes an additional 40 A320 family options.

"We plan to allocate those aircraft across the multiple Vivas in the next 12 to 24 months to have the best returns.... If the Mexican economy is slowing down and if another country offers a higher return, we will reallocate the aircraft."

Grupo Viva was created by Irelandia Aviation and Mexican bus transportation company Grupo IAMSA, two companies that have stakes in Mexico's VivaAerobus and Medellin-based VivaColombia.

Mohan declines to specify where the third Viva carrier will be based, but says the group is targetting only Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, which rules out Brazil.

"We are very bullish, very optimistic about growing the Viva low-cost model through the region," he says. "We are highly motivated to get this airline up and running by the end of 2015."

Previous reports had indicated that Central America could be a potential target of expansion. When asked to comment, Mohan would only say: "In general, what we've seen is that many countries with large populations [in Latin America] are underserved right now. There's no penetration of low-cost carriers within the region outside the large domestic markets of Brazil and Mexico."

Mohan joined Grupo Viva from Copa Airlines, where he was senior-vice president for commercial. He will lead Grupo Viva alongside Tony Davis, who is chief executive. Davis is Irelandia's chief operating officer and was previously chief executive at Singapore-based Tiger Airways.

Mohan says the group plans to establish its structure by the end of the year, and will hire more executives. Mohan is now based in Panama City, where the group could eventually be based. Copa and Latin American airline group Avianca are both incorporated in Panama, Mohan points out. "It is a place with a history of incorporating airlines," he notes.

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