Chilean ultra-low-cost carrier JetSmart has launched its operations in Colombia after securing an air operator certificate (AOC) from the country’s aviation regulator, Aerocivil.

The regulator on 14 March granted JetSmart permission to begin operating eight domestic routes between the cities of Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Medellin, Pereira and Santa Marta. The routes will be served with Airbus A320 aircraft.

“Our entry into the Colombian market takes us into another league and allows us to take a firm step, consolidating ourselves as the premier and authentic ultra-low-cost airline in South America,” JetSmart chief executive Estuardo Ortiz said in a 17 March LinkedIn post.


Source: Airbus

JetSmart launches domestic operations in Colombia after receiving its air operator certificate from Aerocivil last week

Ortiz told FlightGlobal last October that Colombia presented a “big opportunity” for JetSmart. Colombia is the start-up airline’s fourth AOC after Chile, Argentina and Peru, where it already operates as a domestic carrier. With a population of nearly 50 million, the Colombian domestic market is larger than those three combined, he said.

At the time, Aerocivil had given the carrer permission to operate 27 domestic routes in the mid-term. In addition to the initial six cities, the airline also plans flights to Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Monteria, Pasto and San Andres.

Indigo Partners-owned JetSmart, which, according to Cirium fleets data, currently operates 29 Airbus A320-family jets in the region across the four AOCs, launched in 2017 and was the first ultra-low-cost carrier in Latin America..

JetSmart adopted the no-frills formula that Indigo has successfully developed with brands like Frontier Airlines in the USA and Wizz Air in Europe. That formula calls for strict adherence to the two most important features of a successful budget airline: high efficiency and strict cost control.

JetSmart began making inroads into the Colombian market in October 2022, and a few months later it expressed interest in acquiring the flailing domestic airline Viva Air, just before the latter’s collapse. The airline’s primary interest was in securing slots at Bogota’s El Dorado International airport.

Ortiz said last October that after the Covid-19 pandemic, “Colombia was the number one recovery market in the region, both domestic and international.” After both Viva and smaller domestic carrier Ultra Air ceased operations in early 2023, “there [was] no low cost carrier presence in Colombia anymore. And that’s the hole we’re trying to fill,” he said.

So far JetSmart has sold 250,000 tickets in Colombia, since it announced its service in January. Ortiz is targeting two million passengers in the airline’s first year of operation in the country.