The low-cost airline Wingo, of the Copa Airlines group, works on growth plans and projects new routes from Panama, which go through increasing its fleet and expanding frequencies and destinations, recognizing that it has competitors in the region.
This was expressed in an interview with Efe, the Panamanian Carolina Cortizo, general director of Wingo, a company that started operations in 2016 and is based in Bogotá.
Wingo, which had “healthy” figures in 2019, will release a new route to Lima on April 28, as part of these growth plans that will be implemented in 2020.
Cortizo said that at Wingo they are, “as always, looking for growth opportunities in a market that can provide more capacity, if the numbers remain.”
As for figures, he said that 2019 “was a good year for Wingo, which increased its capacity by 7%, also increasing the occupancy factor and flying around 87% occupancy.”
“For 2019 the figures were very healthy, and we can say that we are profitable, we have a positive profitability margin and that we expect to be maintained and improved by 2020,” he said.
Wingo has moved around 800,000 passengers to and from Panama since it was born in 2016, the Panamanian executive said.
And in passengers, he added, “even when our capacity is growing 7%, we managed to raise our occupancy factor. That percentage of chairs that are filled we managed to raise it around 2 percentage points and that generated more passengers flying in Wingo.”
He stressed that in 2020 they have a growth plan, “because we have bigger planes, we transition our fleet from 737-700 to 737-800”, the first of 142 chairs, and the second of 186.
“It is 31% more capacity just to bring larger planes, and apart from that we are going to bring a fifth aircraft that we are going to base in Panama under a Panamanian operation certificate,” he said.
THE PANAMAÑO MARKET AND THE NEW ROUTES
The Panamanian market has received “very well” this operation at low cost and this new way of traveling with low rates and “good vibes”.
The purpose of Wingo, according to Cortizo, “is to give wings so that these people can travel, and travel with low fares and with a good experience that we call it the good vibes, which is that we treat our passengers with love.”
It is a “mix of low prices and good vibes, and we complement it with a timely operation and a very safe operation”.
“And what we are planning is to create new routes from Panama to offer passengers more options to fly” from the Central American country.
From Panama Wingo has four routes to Colombia, one to Havana since last November, and now that of Lima.
Cortizo said that, in addition to the arrival of the new aircraft, the route network that that fifth plane will have is refined, but insists that “there will be more international routes from Panama in Wingo.”
The Wingo director recognizes that competitors exist, in Colombia there is and “in Latin America the boom of low-cost airlines is growing, competition continues to enter.”
“But we believe that we have a very robust business model, where we make sure to keep our costs low, because that is the only way we can offer our passengers lower fares,” he said.
Cortizo defended Wingo’s “very robust” business model that is ready for all market needs. “
“We are very prepared to continue growing and continue to see opportunities to continue adding frequencies and adding routes in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.
LOWINOAMERICA AND EUROPE LOW COST AIRLINES, DIFFERENCES
Cortizo believes that this business model “is super clear, no matter where you are based, the business model is to have low cost rates to boost the market”, and in this there are no differences.
“I don’t know if this is a difference of low-cost Latin American or European airlines, but we at Wingo have a big differentiator, and that for us low cost does not mean bad quality, quite the contrary we focus on being good vibes and in giving our passengers very good attention, so that is a strength that we have and that makes us different, “he added.
And the other thing is that the airline also offers “two pieces of free luggage, 16 kilos of free luggage, and that also means a differentiator for us from Wingo’s point of view.”
The airline also focuses on its punctuality, which is around 86%, Cortizo said.
Wingo, which started operations in 2016 and is based in Bogotá, operates flights to 14 destinations in 8 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.