Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ryan family-backed Viva Group plans to launch budget carrier in Central America

Paul O'Donoghue

Published 16/07/2015 | 02:30

A worker helps giving directions to a Viva Aerobus airplane to moe to a departure runway at the Benito Juarez International Airport (AICM) in Mexico city, Mexico on Thursday, Jan.16, 2014. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg
A worker helps giving directions to a Viva Aerobus airplane to moe to a departure runway at the Benito Juarez International Airport (AICM) in Mexico city, Mexico on Thursday, Jan.16, 2014. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

Viva, the airline brand backed by the family of the late Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, is looking to expand in Central America.

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The group, which already operates low-cost Mexican carrier VivaAerobus, pictured, and Colombian airline VivaColombia, plans to start operating low-cost flights from San José, the Costa Rican capital, to the rest of Central America.

Investors in the company include Mexican bus firm IAMSA and the Ryan family's Irelandia Aviation.

Irelandia, led by Declan Ryan, son of Tony Ryan, specialises in developing low-cost airlines based on the Ryanair model.

'The Daily Telegraph' reports that Joseph Mohan, president of the newly christened VivaCam (Central America), said that the company plans to be operating in the country starting early next year and carry some 250,000 passengers to and from Costa Rica annually.

The firm plans to operate two Airbus 320 aircraft before the end of 2015.

If all goes according to plan this will expand to six planes within three years, and routes will open to North and South America, as well as the Caribbean.

The company is now in the process of obtaining certification from the Costa Rican Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Buses still meet most of the needs of the Spanish-speaking travel market because Latin America's airlines have historically been too expensive for mass travel.

However, Viva is changing that with VivaColumbia and VivaAerobus.

Last year Viva established a multinational holding company in Panama called Grupa Viva to oversee the expansion of the Viva brand. The group dramatically pulled its planned €165m flotation of Mexico's VivaAerobus in 2014, citing emerging market volatility.

Last year 9.6 million international tourists visited Central America. Spain provided the highest volume of visitors followed by Italy, Germany and Holland.

The Central American tourism promotion agency CATA is currently pushing to increase its market share in Europe, including the UK.

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