There have been quite a few interesting stories in the Latin American aviation industry, from startups launching flights to startups temporarily and most likely ceasing operations. But there has also been an impact from Omicron, Avianca’s new routes, positive outlooks in Brazil, and more. Let’s take a round-up of the latest Latin American aviation stories.
Omicron impacts Aeromexico, creating chaos
In the last few days, the rise of COVID-19 cases within Mexican crews has created chaos in the airline industry, with over 300 canceled flights at Mexico City International Airport (MEX), mainly from Aeromexico.
According to data provided by MEX authorities, Aeromexico canceled 178 flights between January 5 and 9. Aeromar, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris also had a few cancelations but nothing as severe as Aeromexico.
Aeromexico’s pilot union, ASPA, issued a statement on the subject. Up to January 10, 79 Aeromexico pilots have tested positive to COVID-19. Approximately 14% of Aeromexico’s crews are currently unavailable due to the new Omicron variant.
Worldwide, the new Omicron variant is creating chaos. For instance, today, there are 674 cancelations in the US, according to FlightAware.
It is still uncertain how the new COVID variant will impact Mexico’s ongoing recovery.
A la opinión pública, acerca de las demoras y cancelaciones de vuelos ocurridas en los últimos días. pic.twitter.com/UYR3yPgOZy
— ASPA de México (@aspaprensa) January 10, 2022
New airline in Latin America
On Monday, January 10, the Latin American region received a new airline. EQUAIR began operations in Ecuador.
EQUAIR is an airline startup with a fleet of two Boeing B737-700 aircraft. The airline flies between three destinations in Ecuador: Quito (UIO), Guayaquil (GYE), and the Galápagos Islands (two airports, Baltra and Seymour, GPS, and SCY, respectively). EQUAIR’s first flight connected Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador’s two main cities.
— equair (@equairECU) January 10, 2022
Airline startup in deep trouble
Last week, we revisited the debacle of Brazil’s Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos. A couple of days later, Brazil’s Civil Aviation National Agency (ANAC) forbade the airline to sell more tickets.
On Friday, ANAC published a statement forbidding Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos to resume sales of tickets. ANAC said,
“The decision will remain in effect until the company demonstrates compliance with corrective actions such as re-accommodation of passengers, a full reimbursement of the airline tickets to customers who opted for this option, and a response to passengers on all complaints registered on the consumidor.gov.br platform.”
Despite the exit of Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos, Brazil expects to have a total domestic capacity recovery in 2021. The Brazilian Air Companies Association (ABEAR) stated that the country closed the year with, on average, 2,036 daily departures, an 84.7% recovery compared to March 2020. Airline capacity should be restored by March or April 2022.
Boeing delivered 18 aircraft in the region
Aeromexico received 11 B737 MAX units between May and October; Copa Airlines took possession of six MAX units between January and March, and GOL received only one MAX.
Boeing still has 171 unfilled orders in the region, including 103 aircraft to GOL Linhas Aereas, 41 to Copa Airlines, nine to Aeroméxico, nine to Aerolíneas Argentinas, two to Avianca and six Dreamliners, and one B777F to LATAM Airlines Group.
Meanwhile, 2% of Airbus’ deliveries worldwide went to Latin America. Airbus still has 482 unfilled orders in the region, mainly with ultra-low-cost carriers like Volaris, JetSMART, Viva, and more.
Avianca’s new routes
Today, Avianca announced the launch of seven new routes. The airline will also resume operations on two international routes, starting on March 2nd. Avianca will launch the routes Medellin-San José, Cartagena-San José, Cartagena-New York, San José-Quito, Medellin-Orlando, Medellin-Riohacha, and Bogota-Ipiales. The airline will resume the flights between Cartagena and Miami, and Bogota-London.
Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.