Latest Event Updates

Spirit Airlines to fly San José-Houston four times per week starting next year

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The U.S. low cost carrier Spirit Airlines said Monday it would open four weekly flights between San José and Houston beginning on May 28, 2015.The airline plans to open the new route to Costa Rica as part of its expansion in Latin America, the company said. Flights will use an Airbus A319 and A320 with the capacity to accommodate 178 passengers. Alberto López, general manager of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), said the carrier’s announcement is important for the country as it will be the first flight of a low-cost airline from the central region of the U.S. to Costa Rica. “Texas is the third largest state where the best traveler prospects for our country live, which means its residents have a high interest in visiting or returning to Costa Rica. This new route and four weekly flights will increase the number of seats available and the number of tourists visiting our country,” López said on Monday evening. ICT studies show that Texas has 2 million residents who could be considered as top prospects for tourism in the region. “Texans are seasoned travelers with high income and higher education levels,” the ICT claims. Official reports also state that during the first nine months of this year, some 740,000 U.S. travelers entered the country by air with a tourist visa. U.S. tourists who entered Costa Rica in 2013 remained on average 10.4 nights and spent an average of $1,232 during their stay. Spirit’s announcement adds to five other airlines that have scheduled new flights to the country. Aeroméxico, JetBlue, Delta Airlines and United Airlines will increase flights to the country’s two international airports, Juan Santamaría, outside the capital, and Daniel Oduber, in Liberia City in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Last week, German carrier Condor started its third weekly flight to Costa Rica, and Cubana Airlines on Sunday resumed nonstop flights to Cuba. Thomson Airways and Southwest Airlines confirmed new flights in 2015, while Turkish Airlines, VECA Airlines and VivaColombia currently are in negotiations for opening routes to Costa Rica in 2015. Also Costa Rican start-up Air Costa Rica should start flights from San Jose to Miami, San Andres Island, Central America and Mexico with two Boeing 737-300s. ICT executives also hope that Spirit Airlines would consider Liberia Airport in the near future from both Ft. Lauderdale and Houston.

Spirit Airlines will start Houston-San Jose on May 2015.
Spirit Airlines will start Houston-San Jose on May 2015.

Massive Layoffs in Avianca

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BOGOTA, Colombia–On November 14th up to 1800 employees systemwide were laid off at Avianca Holdings. The airline consortium owner of Avianca, TACA, LACSA, TACAPeru, Aerolineas Galapagos and TAMPA Cargo is suffering as more competition enters Colombia, Central America and the airline has not been able to recover up to 200 million dollars from Venezuela. Avianca is the second oldest airline in the world, created in 1919 in Colombia and an icon in Latin America. The merger with the TACA Group in 2009 created for a while the biggest airline in the region. Central America and the north of South America are now excellent revenue producers for U.S. carriers and Latin American airlines. For 2015 Southwest Airlines will open its first Latin American city: San Jose in Costa Rica and Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza will develop by May a new Central American hub in Houston International Airport to compete against United Airlines. Salvadorian start-up VECA Airlines is expected to start flights in February 2015 with two Airbus A-319s to Central America and most likely Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Baltimore. Also the Colombian LCC Viva Colombia has announced its interest to operate to three cities in Florida. Pressure on Avianca has build up and layoffs were needed to lower the operational costs. Rumors are that the airline will have a second wave of layoffs in February 2015.

Turbulent air ahead for Avianca Airlines.
Turbulent air ahead for Avianca Airlines.

Avianca 3Q net profit down 7.6%, passengers up 7.5%

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BOGOTA, Colombia–Panama City-registered Avianca Holdings reported third-quarter net profits of $33.2 million, down 7.6% from $35.9 million posted in the year-ago period. Operating revenues were $1.23 billion, up 3.9% year-over-year, as expenses rose 10.2% to $1.16 billion. Resulting operating income for the quarter came to $70.3 million, down 46.9% from $132.2 million in the September 2013 quarter. Avianca attributed the results to “redeployed capacity (ASKs) as well as the strong demand observed in the Colombian domestic market and … the entry into operation of the Bogota-London route.” Avianca’s third-quarter traffic grew 5.3% year-over-year to 8.7 billion RPKs on a 6.1% rise in capacity to 10.7 billion ASKs, creating a quarterly load factor of 81.3%, down 0.7 point from the 2013 third quarter. The company carried 6.9 million passengers during the quarter, up 7.5% from the 6.4 million passengers transported in the third quarter of 2013. Yield dropped 0.8% year-over-year to 11.9 cents. CASK excluding-fuel was up 5.8% year-over-year to 7.5 cents.nThird-quarter EBITDAR fell 14.8% year-over-year to $202.5 million. In the company’s quarterly results analysis, Avianca Holdings CEO Fabio Villegas Ramirez said, “Our cargo traffic expressed in RTKs grew 27% … resulting in an improvement of 600 basis points in load factor when compared to the third quarter of 2013,” Villegas said. “In addition, we have made further progress … with the completion of the acquisition of a stake of Aerounion in Mexico and the new commercial agreement with Etihad … which enables the company to improve its inbound cargo operation from Los Angeles via Mexico as well as enhancing connectivity to Europe.” On October 20th, Avianca Cargo and Etihad Cargo announced a commercial partnership agreement involving the deployment of freighter flights from Avianca’s Bogotá, Colombia, hub at El Dorado International Airport to Milan’s Malpensa Airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The twice-a-week service commenced operations November 12th. During the quarter, Avianca took delivery of 10 new aircraft: two Airbus A321s, two A320s and two A319s, plus four ATR-72s slotted to operate on the company’s domestic Colombian and Central American routes. Two ATR-42s were taken out of service. As of September 30th, Avianca’s fleet comprised 180 aircraft—165 of which are currently operational—including: 58 A320s (27 on operating lease); 36 A319s (17 on operating lease); 12 Embraer E-190s (two on operating lease); 11 ATR-72s; 11 A330s (10 on operating lease); 10 A318s (all on operating lease); 10 Cessna Grand Caravans; nine ATR-42s (five on operating lease); eight A-321s (six on operating lease); five A330 freighters; five Fokker 100s; three Boeing 767 freighters (one on operating lease) and two Fokker 50s.

Avianca 3Q net profits are down.
Avianca’s 3Q in 2014 net profits are down.

Thomson Airlines to Guanacaste in 2015

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LIBERIA, Guanacaste–British charter airline Thomson Airways announced its first route to Costa Rica. The airline will fly nonstop between London and Liberia, starting November 2015.The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) said the airline will fly once a week from London’s Gatwick Airport. Each airplane will have a capacity for 291 passengers. ICT data indicate that the UK is the fourth largest source of tourists from Europe to Costa Rica. Last year alone the ICT recorded 35,198 tourists from the United Kingdom and Ireland. That’s a 10.2 percent increase in arrivals from 2012.British tourists stayed an average of 14.5 nights in Costa Rica and spent $94, ICT stated.Last Friday, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz reported that he held a meeting with the CEO and senior executives of Turkish Airlines and began studying options for opening non-stop flights between Turkey and Costa Rica. The officials met during activities held during the opening of Costa Rica’s new embassy in Ankara. The embassy in the Turkish capital is the first new diplomatic office created under the Solís administration.

Thomson Airlines will operate the Dreamliner to Guanacaste.
Thomson Airlines will operate the Dreamliner to Guanacaste.

 

 

 

German carrier CONDOR starts third flight to Costa Rica

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–At 5 in the morning on Tuesday a Boeing 767 flown by the German carrier Condor arrived at Juan Santamaría International Airport outside Costa Rica’s capital for the inauguration of the company’s third weekly flight between Frankfurt and San José. The new flight adds to two weekly flights the carrier operates on Mondays and Thursdays and responds “to a greater demand for European travelers and our reading of the traveling trends to the Costa Rican market,” said Condor Airport Manager Óscar Álvarez. “We have developed an accurate reading pointing at a higher demand from Germany and the entire European community for travel to Costa Rica, which allows us to anticipate the competition in meeting the needs of European tourists and even increasing our export load capacity,” Álvarez added during a welcome ceremony held at the airport. Local tourism officials also greeted travelers with souvenirs, music and folk dances. Costa Rican Tourism Board General Manager Alberto López said the route expansion would help increase the number of European tourists arriving in the country.“Last year alone we registered more than 300,000 arrivals of European travelers, representing a 5.6 percent increase compared to 2012. Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom currently are the main market sources of tourists to Costa Rica,” Álvarez said. Rafael Mencia, CEO of AERIS, the company that administrates the Juan Santamaría International Airport terminal, said the German market in 2013 accounted for 18.19 percent of Europeans who arrived in the country, and currently is the main source of tourists from that continent. This year five airlines have announced new flights to the country. Avianca, AeroMéxico, JetBlue, Delta and United will increase flights to the country’s two international airports: Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Cubana de Aviación will resume a nonstop flight to the island later this month. Also in recent days, Thomson Airways and Southwest Airlines confirmed new flights in 2015, while Turkish Airlines and Viva Colombia currently are in negotiations for opening routes to Costa Rica.

Condor will operate the Boeing 767 for its third flight into Costa Rica.
Condor will operate the Boeing 767 for its third flight into Costa Rica.

 

Cubana Airlines returns to Costa Rica

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Cuban national airline company Cubana de Aviación will offer nonstop flights between Cuba and Costa Rica starting on November 16th, the airline confirmed to Cuban media this week. The carrier dropped the route in August 2008 in order to code share the flight with TACA. But the airline will reopen the flight as part of an objective to boost tourism between the two countries. “We will offer two weekly flights on Thursday and Sunday departing from Havana in the mornings. The flights will last two hours and thirty minutes,” said Walfredo Riverón Rodríguez, corporate communications director. Flights will have a capacity of 85 passengers, operated with modern Antonov AN-158. Tickets for the route are already available at travel agencies and on the airline’s website, Riverón said. “The route will offer a great opportunity to expand ties between Central American and Caribbean countries and for developing multi-destination routes in the area,” he added. Data from the Costa Rican Tourism Board showed that only 3,372 travelers visited from Cuba last year.

Cubana Airlines will operate AN-158 to San Jose.
Cubana Airlines will operate AN-158 to San Jose.

 

Mega Million Resort Project in Costa Rican Pacific Coast

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The Lake Hille/ASA Company presented the study of the mega million resort project to be constructed in Tarcoles Beach in the pacific province of Puntarenas. The project that will be called “Punta Loros” would include 34 apartment buildings, three hotels, and 18-hole golf course and common areas of leisure. The investment would be of $400 million. Next to Punta Loros  another resort called Nativa would share the Tarcoles Beach. Just 45 minutes away from San Jose, the area of Tarcoles Beach in Garabito will become another part of the Costa Rican Riviera, this area in the Central Pacific of the country. If the new International Airport is constructed in Orotina (should be ready by 2025), Punta Loros would be just 15 minutes away from the new mega airport.

Punta Loros would be the name of the new mega resort in the Central Pacific of Costa Rica.
Punta Loros would be the name of the new mega resort in the Central Pacific of Costa Rica.