Ryan-backed VivaAerobus predicts further expansion

Roberto Alcantara: “The goal is to expand the airline into many countries”

Roberto Alcantara, CEO IAMSA and Chairman of Viva Aerobus, with Carlos Sanchez Pavon, Head of ProMexico United Kingdom, at yesterday’s conference

Roberto Alcantara, CEO IAMSA and Chairman of Viva Aerobus, with Carlos Sanchez Pavon, Head of ProMexico United Kingdom, at yesterday’s conference

Fri, May 2, 2014, 09:03

The chairman of VivaAerobus, a Mexican low fares airline backed by the Ryan family, said in Dublin yesterday that he would like to expand the business into a major airline in Latin America.

Roberto Alcantara, who is also the chairman of the IAMSA Group, Mexico’s biggest bus company, said: “The goal is to expand the airline into many countries in Latin America.”

The IAMSA Group is a 51 per cent shareholder in VivaAerobus with the businesses remaining shares owned by Irelandia Aviation. Irelandia is a global low fares airline developer led by Declan Ryan, the son of Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair.

In a speech given to the Mexico-Dublin business conference yesterday Mr Alcantara said VivaAerobus’ order of 52 new airplanes late last year worth $5.1 billion was a transformational investment.

“This is a very important deal for us,” Mr Alcantara said: “It is the most investment of its type in Latin America.”

Mr Alcantara said new modern airplanes would allow the company drive down its prices even further.

“Only 10 per cent of the people in Mexico can afford to fly,” he said. “They usually travel with us by bus because they don’t have the purchasing power.”

“We want to lower prices and offer more routes to expand,” Mr Alcantara said.

Mexico alone he said had a population of 125 million people: “It is a huge market for transport.”

IAMSA and Irelandia has already made their first investments outside Mexico.

In 2009 along with some local investors they founded VivaColumbia which is headquartered in Medellín, Colombia.

“It is a small airline. They only have six aeroplanes that are only flying domestic but we’d like to offer international flights too,” Mr Alcantara said.

VivaAerobus has been linked with a flotation but this is understood not to be currently being considered.

In his speech Mr Alcantara praised Tony Ryan who he said he met before the entrepreneur died in 2007. “I was very lucky to meet him. He was a most admirable person.”

“We’ve learned a lot about the low fare airlines business from the success of Ryanair,” Mr Alcantara said.

Mr Alcantara has been named by CNN as one of Mexico’s top 100 entrepreneurs every year since 2010. IAMSA has annual revenues of $2 billion, 47,000 employees and 9,000 buses.

The transport conglomerate carries 300 million passengers in Mexico annually.

“Our buses take our passengers almost to the door of the aircraft. Our competitors can’t do that. That is our competitive advantage along with low prices,” he said.

The first Mexico-Dublin conference began yesterday and it is being attended by 90 delegates.

Organised by the Mexican Embassy and Dublin City Council speakers include Mexico’s Minister of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal as well as Brendan McDonagh, the chief executive of the National Asset Management Agency.

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