Start-up low-cost carrier VivaColombia will launch its inaugural commercial flights on 25 May, and plans to operate to up to six domestic destinations in its first month of operations.

Based in Colombia's second largest city of Medellin, VivaColombia will begin flights to Bogota, Cartagena and Cali on its first day of operations, says the airline's chief executive Frederik Jacobsen.

The carrier will start operations with a fleet of three Airbus A320 aircraft and aims to add a fourth in June and a fifth aircraft between July and October, he adds.

Despite planning to start flights in a few days, VivaColombia has not started selling tickets because it is still awaiting final certification from the Colombian civil aviation authority to do so, says Jacobsen. He expects this to be issued on 22 May or 23 May.

"We don't forsee it will be after the end of May... The aircraft is ready and our crews are ready," he adds.

VivaColombia has already received regulatory approval to operate on 32 domestic routes covering 18 destinations in its first year of operations.

Besides Bogota, Cartagena and Cali, the airline plans to operate to Barranquilla and Bucaramanga in its first month of operations, says Jacobsen. The carrier will add flights to Apartado, Monteria, San Andres and Pereira later in the year.

VivaColombia also plans to launch international flights in its first 12 months of operations to destinations in Central and South America. Jacobsen declines to name specific destinations.

The airline's first five A320s, built between 2000 and 2004, are being acquired on operating leases of six years each. Jacobsen says the airline has yet to decide on further aircraft acquisitions for 2013, adding that the carrier wants to ensure that its existing fleet is being utilised fully before it announces more additions.

VivaColombia is being set up with an initial capital of more than $15 million by shareholders Irelandia, the investment arm of Ireland's Ryan family, Mexican ground transportation company IAMSA, Colombian conglomerate Grupo Bolivar and Grupo FAST, which is led by former Avianca president Juan Emilio Posada. IAMSA and the Ryan family also hold stakes in Mexican low-cost carrier VivaAerobus.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news