Avianca launching Bogota-PR flights
CARIBBEAN BUSINESS first reported on the new flights on April 11. Avianca and Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla confirmed the service between Bogotá and San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on Monday. It will start July 17.
García Padilla anticipated the Avianca flights to provide a direct boost to Puerto Rico’s economy of $150 million per year. The arrival of the airline is projected to spur 160 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
The governor took credit for landing Avianca after talks were started with the airline by the previous administration of former Gov. Luis Fortuño.
“We are taking a key step toward a rebound in Puerto Rico’s tourism,” he said. “this government is committed to spurring the island’s economic development and to do that we need to support our tourism industry.
Avianca is benefiting’from some $300,000 in co-promotion and marketing incentives and the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. will add Colombia to its advertising efforts to lure foreign visitors.
The Avianca service represents the first new flights added since operation of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport was put into private hands earlier this year under a 40-year lease deal with Aerostar Airport Holdings.
The news comes as the latest positive development for an airline that previously had a patchy relationship with the local market, having pulled out all its flights from Puerto Rico in the summer of 2008 due to industry dynamics.
In previous weeks, JetBlue announced it was expanding its offering of routes to the island and Southwest landed its inaugural flight to Puerto Rico last weekend.
The new Avianca routes are in line with the intention of local government officials to establish a more direct air connection between Puerto Rico and South America, the ultimate goal being a direct route with Brazil. Such a goal is partly the reason why García Padilla visited Sao Paulo earlier this month, alongside Economic Development & Commerce Secretary Alberto Bacó Bagué.
Raúl Bustamante, a veteran of the island’s hotel industry and currently general manager of the Conrad Hotel in the Condado sector of San Juan, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS back in November that a San Juan-Bogotá route would be a significant step toward bringing more Brazilians to Puerto Rico (CB, Nov. 15, 2012).
The new route will be among the first direct flights to the South American continent since American Airlines discontinued the service nearly a decade ago as part of its long-running downsizing in the region.