Viva Air Group is eyeing a public listing in about two years, as the low-cost carrier sets its sights on expanding among the Andean states.

The holding company of VivaColombia and Viva Air Peru sees itself listing in New York and possibly in Colombia, Viva's chief executive Declan Ryan tells FlightGlobal.

"We will IPO in two years, we will be five years old at that moment," he says, referring to the creation of Viva Air Group in 2014. "We will be the LCC for the Andes region."

Owned by Ryan's Irelandia Aviation, Viva launched Viva Air Peru in 2017, adding a second airline to Viva Group after Medellin-based VivaColombia which began service in 2012. In 2016, Viva sold its stake in Mexico's VivaAerobus, now wholly owned by Mexican transportation provider Grupo IAMSA.

With an order for 50 Airbus A320 family aircraft that will begin delivering later this year, Viva is focused on growing its operations in Peru and is considering a potential third Viva carrier in South America. Ecuador is of particular interest, say Ryan and Viva chief commercial officer Stephen Rapp. Viva is in talks with Ecuador's government, they say.

"I think there's a real low-cost opportunity in Ecuador if we get the right airport deal," says Ryan, who spoke with FlightGlobal ahead of Routes Americas in Quito. "If you link Colombia, Peru and Ecuador together, it's probably the golden triangle for backpackers."

He also points to Ecuador's struggling state-owned airline TAME as a factor that would make Ecuador viable for a low-cost carrier.

Viva is considering alternative airports around Quito, such as Cotopaxi in Latacunga which is about a 1h 30min drive from central Quito. The airport is served by only TAME, with service to Guayaquil, FlightGlobal schedules data show.

Expanding within Latin America is not without challenges. Viva was considering Central America at one point and came close to striking a deal with San Jose in Costa Rica, but pulled the plug when airport taxes became a concern.

A recent blitz of low-cost airline activity in South America has also informed Viva's expansion plans. For example, Argentina and Chile are low on the list for future growth. Argentina, in particular, has seen the start-up of a number of low-cost airlines including Flybondi.

"Argentina is a gold rush," says Ryan. "We decided to run away from it… Aerolineas [Argentinas] is no pushover. There was an opportunity for us but we walked away. We smelled blood. Our priority is the Andes."

Source: Cirium Dashboard