South America has never been the cheapest continent in which to fy and Colombia has been no exception. But with the arrival of Viva Colombia Airline things could be about to change!
Viva Colombia began operations in May 2012 and already flies to 8 nacional destinations.
It currently serves Medellin (where the company is based), Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Pereira and Monteria.
Up until now large airlines such as Avianca, LAN and Copa have dominated the market in Colombia. While they do all offer occasional promotions, flights are generally very expensive, especially when flying to a destination other than Bogota.
Destinations such as Cartagena have been notoriously expensive to fly to, even when purchasing tickets well in advance.
But it is now possible to buy a return ticket from Medellin to Cartagena for as little as 111,000 pesos (around $60) most weekends. This is substantially cheaper than taking the bus!
There are one or two small catches, but nothing you wouldn't find with other budget airlines.
Firstly, to receive the lowest prices you are limited to 10kg hand luggage. You can check in luggage up to 20kg, but you'll be charged an extra fee (perhaps about 30,000 pesos or so).
The Viva Colombia Airline also has a strict policy on check in times. Flights are closed one hour before take off (earlier than most) and there is, of course, a 'no refund' policy on missed flights. So arrive early!
You can book tickets through the airline's website with credit cards (although frustratingly, not debit cards). Viva Colombia Airline has quickly become the first place I check for domestic Colombian flights.
The airline has said it is looking to expand to other domestic routes and even to international destinations within a year or two.
The hope is now that with the emergence of a low cost carrier other airlines will follow suit and charge more reasonable fares for their flights.
Here's to hoping!