Viva bet on growing breaking paradigms

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Viva bet on growing breaking paradigms
Source: Twitter @VivaAirCol
July 13, 2021

We exclusively interviewed Alexander Cipagauta, Airports & Operations Control Center Director at Viva Air, who reviews the company's current affairs and his vision for the future


Viva is one of the low-cost airlines that has been growing the most in Latin America and currently operates 26 national routes in Colombia, seven domestic routes in Peru and seven international routes to the United States, Mexico and Peru. In its 9-year history, it has transported more than 28 million passengers and in 2021 it made Medellín official as its HUB and connection center for its national and international operations. Recognized for its proven biosecurity protocols, punctuality and for having one of the most modern fleets in Latin America with 21 Airbus 320 aircraft, Viva continues its expansion path, bringing air equity to the regions it touches with its promise to always offer low prices. To know in detail its current situation and to know the vision of the future, we have exclusively interviewed Alexander Cipagauta, Airports & Operations Control Center Director of the airline.

How was the process to get here?
I have been living in the Colombian business for almost 10 years. We are an airline that has challenged many paradigms. We have been the pioneers in the low cost segment in our country. The mission has been to offer affordable prices so that many passengers can fulfill their dream of flying with a better rate. Today we have been able to elevate this model to other countries where we operate. 
We have the highest standards of service, with an average fleet of 2 years old and that is part of our commitment and since the pandemic began we have placed special focus on complying with security protocols.
Another of the most important aspects for us is to be punctual. Only five years ago in Colombia the average punctuality was 65%, and the passenger who passed you through Colombia was used to having delays. Our mission has been to break that paradigm and not only offer low prices but also according to a specific airline. Today our average has risen to 95% punctuality according to OAG data. 
Our bet is paying off because today we have a load factor that exceeds 95%. 

How do you think it is possible to move forward in a situation as delicate as this?
Without a doubt it is not being easy. We are carrying it out working as an internal and external team, including suppliers and strategic allies, and with the work we carry out in compliance with the protocols we were able to demonstrate to the authorities that flying live was safe.
Then came a process of generating confidence in passengers and demand has grown to reach the levels that we have today, which are very similar to those we had prior to the pandemic. 
We are betting heavily on our Medellín hub with routes to Cancun, Orlando, Mexico City, and Miami. 

How do you plan new operations on a day-to-day basis?
We have a team that analyzes how the reactivation is taking place. On the one hand it studies the domestic reactivation and on the other the international one. Today they are very different realities. In fact, in the international flight market we have to deal with many restrictions. The situation demands great caution. 

Do you think this health crisis has played for or against an airline like Viva?
Without a doubt, the pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, regardless of whether it is a small or medium-sized large airline. But it becomes an opportunity for those who can adapt quickly and interpret the changes. Ultimately, who are going to be better for two will be the low cost airlines because today the priorities of the passengers have changed because now they are looking for cheap prices and companies that comply with punctuality by complying with the protocols. We believe that we are thus fulfilling a fundamental role in the reactivation of tourism in our region. 

Doing a bit of futurology, how do you imagine Viva in 2023?
I imagine a benchmark airline with a good positioning in Latin America and the Caribbean that continues to challenge paradigms and grow even more in new markets with a modern fleet as the process of receiving Airbus 320 Neo continues. 

What is Viva's vision regarding the claims that the aeronautical industry has made to the states to lift restrictions?
We respect the decisions that have been made by the different countries but we express that it is very necessary that Latin America begin to connect to gradually resume normality in the service. We have domestic service in Colombia and Peru and with both governments we have been working to reestablish the service, respecting biosafety protocols. 

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