Grupo Viva to headquarter in Panama

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Ryanair, one of Europe’s largest and most profitable airlines is planning to take Latin America by storm with a group of low budget air companies called Grupo Viva which will be based in Panama City. According to the digital newspaper Caribbean News Digital, the Ryan family, the driving force behind Ryanair, has invested in other carriers through their company, Irelandia Aviation. To ensure that Viva has the same strategy that made Ryanair a success, Declan Ryan has brought along current Ryanair partner and COO Tony Davis to act as CEO of Grupo Viva.

They are already major shareholders in two airlines that are based in Latin America, Mexico’s VivaAerobus, based in Monterrey, and Medellin, and Colombia’s VivaColombia which are both expanding their domestic operations. They feature the same kind of no-frills service that Ryanair and airlines like Spirit and Allegiant offer.

Declan Ryan, the son of Ryanair’s late founder and namesake Tony Ryan, is the principal investor in a new firm called Grupo Viva. The company will seek to further develop VivaAerobus and VivaColombia while also launching a third airline, VivaCan, which will fly to destinations in Central America. The other major investor in Grupo Viva is Mexican bus company IAMSA, which also owns a significant stake in VivaAerobus.

In the past, the Ryans invested heavily in Las Vegas-based low-cost-carrier Allegiant Air. After it recovered from bankruptcy, Allegiant became one of the U.S.’s most profitable airlines. However, Irelandia is no longer a shareholder. The firm sold its shares during Allegiant’s IPO. The group has a long term strategy with the airlines and eventually hopes to offer budget flights to Central and South America.

Budget airlines is a relatively new concept in Latin America, but the low cost model is well established in Europe, North America and Asia. New budget airlines have to compete against entrenched and proven brands like Ryanair, AirAsia, Southwest and JetBlue.

There are other low budget airlines appearing in the region, which in the long run will benefit the consumer who will be able to travel around the continent at a fraction of the price.


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