This week, the Chilean low-cost carrier JetSMART started a process to obtain its third Air Operator Certificate (AOC). Now, the airline is looking to launch domestic flights in Peru at some point later this year or in 2022. What else do we know?
The Peruvian plans
Currently, JetSMART operates domestic flights in Chile and Argentina. The low-cost airline started running in Argentina following the exit of Norwegian a few years ago.
Nevertheless, Estuardo Ortiz, JetSMART’s CEO, believes there’s plenty of opportunity across South America following the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, JetSMART will look for new territories to expand, and Peru is its first destination.
In a statement, the airline said,
“As part of the growth of the ultra-low-cost carrier JetSMART Airlines in the region, the company officially filed a letter requesting an AOC to the Civil Aviation General Directorate (DGAC) in Peru.”
The airline is not new to the Peruvian market. JetSMART launched international flights from Santiago de Chile to Lima, Arequipa, and Trujillo in 2017. So, why Peru? Estuardo Ortiz added,
“During the pandemic, we’ve been looking for growth opportunities, and we believe the Peruvian domestic market is one of them. It is time to start our certification process as a domestic carrier in Peru. We hope the market recovery will accelerate during the second half of 2021, and in 2022, to be able to bring the SMART travel brand to all the Peruvians.”
The current status of the Peruvian market
Peru is an odd market. It doesn’t have a proper national carrier. Currently, there are four different airlines operating in the country, LATAM Peru, Viva Air Peru, Sky Airline Peru, and the only Peruvian, Atsa Airlines, according to Cirium data. Nevertheless, Atsa is the smallest of them all, offering below 4% of the current domestic flights in the country.
This lack of a Peruvian airline has led to the proposal of a State carrier, for instance. But it has also led to the expansion of the low-cost movement into the country. If JetSMART enters the market, there will be three low-cost airlines against one legacy (Avianca exited Peru in 2020).
Plus, JetSMART is a point-to-point airline, and Peru needs that. Both LATAM and Sky operate almost exclusively out of Lima. Only Viva Air has routes from secondary cities like Arequipa-Cuzco, Cajamarca-Trujillo, or Ilo-Cuzco.
How’s JetSMART doing in Chile and Argentina?
Estuardo Ortiz stated,
“Since our launch, we’ve been setting a before and an after; we’ve made traveling by airplane more accessible, offering low prices and SMART routes, connecting secondary cities.”
Currently, JetSmart has 18 Airbus A320 family airplanes. Plus, it has an order for 47 A320neo and 12 A321XLR.
In 2020, JetSMART carried 1.2 million passengers both domestically and internationally from Chile. The carrier suffered a 53% decrease in traffic compared to the previous year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, in 2021, the impact has been more challenging. Internationally, JetSMART has carried 34,146 passengers, a 75.8% decrease. Those results will be even worse in April, following the Chilean Government’s decision to close borders. Domestically, the low-cost carrier has carried 306,011 passengers, a 53% decrease.
In Argentina, the airline carried 234,000 passengers in 2020, an 54% decrease compared to the previous year. So far, 2021 has been worse. The airline has already carried 100,000 passengers, a 72% decrease compared to the first quarter of 2019.
Would you expect JetSMART to succeed in Peru? Let us know in the comments.