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A JetSMART Argentina A320 taxiing in Mendoza. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | João Machado)

Indigo Partners’ JetSMART Starts Operations in Brazil

On Friday, Chilean ultra-low-cost carrier JetSMART operated its first flight in Brazil, connecting Santiago to the Northeastern capital of Salvador. This is the first of four weekly operations, which from the end of the summer season, will become two.

This is the first of three new routes to South America’s largest country — the airline will also connect the Chilean capital to Foz do Iguaçu and São Paulo (Guarulhos), starting from January 3 and March 20, respectively.

“Brazil is one of the largest South American markets and with this route, JetSMART continues its expansion in the region. With the introduction of our new A320neo fleet we make another step that all South Americans can fly smart and can go to Salvador, [which is] now accessible to everyone with our ultra-low fares,” stated JetSMART’s CEO, Estuardo Ortiz, in a press release reported by Desde SCL blog.

JetSMART’s operations to Brazil aim especially at budget touristic travelers, with lower frequencies and much lower fares when compared to the larger competitors in the Brazil-Chile market. Indeed, the flight to Salvador starts in time for the Summer season, when thousands of Chileans head to the Brazilian beaches and, later in February, to the Brazilian carnival celebrations.

Not for nothing, Chile’s second-largest carrier, the also low-cost SKY Airline, also started for the first time a seasonal operation to Salvador. It also boosted frequencies of its year-round flight to Rio de Janeiro (Galeão) and kept the already traditional operation to the Summer destination of Florianópolis.

JetSMART is a venture owned by Indigo Partners, which also owns Frontier Airlines in the United States, Volaris in México and the highly successful Wizz Air in Europe. The airline has achieved outstanding results since its first flight in July 2017. It pushed fares down, brought demand up and defied LATAM and SKY’s dominance, now owning about 14 percent of the domestic market and having transported more than 5 million passengers.

If its domestic strategy in Chile was already very interesting, relying heavily upon low-frequency, point-to-point flights at a market heavily concentrated in Santiago, its international network also aims to the same objective.

JetSMART also has a domestic branch in Argentina, which although being an economically unstable country in recent times, always had a huge air transportation under-development. In December, to further increase its presence there, the airline announced it had bought Norwegian Air Argentina.

The political and economic situation in JetSMART’s key markets may have been disrupted in 2019, with serious riots in Chile and an economic downfall in Argentina. Still, the airline seems to have a long-term commitment to the region, with a backlog of 12 A321XLRs and with Indigo Partners having a signed understanding with Airbus for 430 A320neos, some many of which may be allocated to its South American venture.

The hopes are high with the new operations to Brazil nevertheless, with the airline CEO stating to Exame magazine in October that domestic operations in South America’s largest market are not ruled out. He also claimed that “for sure” there will be new routes to the country in the near future.

João Machado
João Machado
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