JetSMART Airlines has obtained a green light from Colombia’s civil aviation regulator to start a process that would allow it to operate as a domestic carrier in the South American country, the Civil Aviation Authority said.The approval comes as Chile-based JetSMART looks to buy Colombian low-cost carrier Viva Air, a move that could scupper Viva’s plans to merge with Colombian flag carrier Avianca – a deal previously rejected by the regulator.
According to an agency statement released late on Tuesday, Indigo Partners-backed JetSMART would have Bogota as its main base and use Airbus A320-271 Neo aircraft to cover 27 routes linking cities such as Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Cali, Barranquilla and San Andres.
JetSMART had announced late in February its intention to acquire Viva, which halted operations a week ago amid a financial crisis.
“Taking into account the proposed frequencies for 27 requested routes, the company must now submit a compliance plan based on the number of aircraft and the number of routes that will operate,” the regulator said in a statement late on Tuesday.
In a separate statement, JetSMART said it would immediately start the process to meet all the Colombian requirements in the shortest possible time so it can obtain the license, something that must happen within two years.
JetSMART, which currently serves more than 79 routes in South America, is part of private investor Indigo Partners’ portfolio of budget airlines alongside US-based Frontier Airlines, Europe’s Wizz Air, Canada’s Lynx, Asia’s CebuPacific and Mexico’s Volaris.