Strong airline competition for beach tourists

The beach and the sun are becoming the new escape route for millions of travelers who want to avoid the harmful effects and restrictions derived from the pandemic.

Many of the airlines operating in the country, such as American Airlines, Wingo, Copa, Viva and Avianca are significantly increasing the number of flights and routes to these destinations.

“The reactivation of Colombia’s domestic market is one of the most important in the world, according to the statistics we keep. What is moving the most is tourism, then come the flights that have to do with family visits and the last thing to be reactivated will be corporate travel,” explained to SEMANA the president of the airline Viva, Felix Antelo.

The executive mentioned that destinations such as San Andres, Cartagena and Santa Marta are the local favorites, while there has been a sustained increase in international flights to Cancun (Mexico) and the Dominican Republic.

In destinations such as Cancun, attractive for its hotel infrastructure, wide beaches and relatively competitive prices, Viva’s aircraft occupancy rate is 85 %, above the general average.

Forty percent of passengers who take a Viva flight today do so to beach destinations. In 2019 that figure was above 30 %, which demonstrates this trend.

Avianca also has a plan to attract Bermuda shorts and sunblock tourists. The company has a campaign on social networks where it uses the phrase: “Come back to relax by the sea”.

The approach is clear and seeks to attract people who for 18 months have stopped flying or still feel some kind of fear to stay in a hotel.

Avianca has 14 flights a week between Bogota and Punta Cana, and 8 weekly flights Medellin-Punta Cana.

On the attractive Bogota-Miami route, the airline has 48 weekly flights. That is, an average of almost 7 flights every day.

On the Bogota-Cancun route, another of the destinations that the airlines fight side by side, Avianca has 18 weekly flights, while to San Andres it has 48 flights each week.

In general, Avianca’s routes to beach destinations maintain an increase in the number of passengers mobilized.

In January of this year, 9,168 passengers arrived to San Andres (on Avianca flights), while in June there were 11,794. To Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), this same airline went from 2,686 passengers in January to 5,445 in June. To Cartagena, the growth was from 41,249 passengers to 69,337 in the same comparative months.

Wingo did not lag behind and started flights on the new Medellín-Punta Cana route on July 3, “with the purpose of dynamizing the transportation offer in the region and offering travelers the coolest flights, with really low prices”.

This airline put on the market more than 36,000 seats to fly between the capital of Antioquia and Punta Cana, with fares starting at US$ 199 round trip, with all taxes and fees included, with the first change of date without penalty.

More international airlines, such as American Airlines, are seeing opportunities in the Caribbean to attract more travelers.

American Airlines announced on July 26 that it will launch new international service from Miami to San Andres, Colombia next December.

“The international flight to San Andres will help energize and recover international tourism activity in these territories affected by the pandemic and Hurricane Iota,” the U.S. airline explained at the time.

After San Andres, the most preferred sun destination in Colombia is Cartagena. According to figures delivered by the Sociedad Aeroportuaria de la Costa, in June 2021, 376,580 passengers were mobilized through the Rafael Núñez international airport of that city, of which 331,699 correspond to domestic flights and, the remaining 44,881, correspond to international flights. Avianca alone has 194 weekly flights on the Bogota-Cartagena route, nearly 27 flights per day!

The number of passengers mobilized during the sixth month represented the highest figure since February 2020, the last month in which La Heroica airport operated with total normality before the arrival of covid-19.

In addition, the June 2021 figure represents 81% of the total number of passengers mobilized in June 2019 (465,222), i.e., with a difference of 88,642 passengers, levels of pre-pandemic months are being reached.

What are the reasons?
Felix Antelo, president of Viva, has 3 theories or explanations for this beach, sand and sun fever.

“Colombia was closed for 6 months in 2020 and it is clear that we have a pent-up demand. The second thing is that the Colombian geography, with its mountain ranges and mountains, makes the offer of flights very attractive, especially if they are low cost like ours. And thirdly, there is a wide range of flights and services, which is attractive to anyone,” he explained.

Other very clear reasons that are launching the market have to do with the restrictions imposed in some countries in Europe and Asia after the rebound of covid-19 and delta strain.

Similarly, in recent months, the number of international travelers going to other countries in search of vaccines has declined substantially. Colombia has already completed 33 million doses supplied; 13 million citizens already have full doses.

This is clearly reflected in the offer: in the case of Viva, it went from 4 daily flights on the Medellin-Miami route in March and April 2021 to only 2 in May and June of the same year.

What’s next?
The airlines consulted indicated that the trend between now and the end of the year is that the number of travelers and flights to beach destinations will continue to increase.

Likewise, Colombians are traveling more than the rest of Latin Americans. According to a study by the consulting firm Kantar, Colombia has travelers more inclined to fly by plane. The appetite for vacations is evident.

 

 

 

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