Montevideo, Jan 18 (EFE).- JetSMART, a budget airline controlled by American private equity firm Indigo Partners, on Tuesday inaugurated a new route linking the capitals of Chile and Uruguay.
A 186-seat Airbus 320, which authorities said was flying at 80 percent capacity, landed at Carrasco International Airport on Montevideo’s outskirts at around 7.30 am and received a water salute on the runway.
Upon the plane’s arrival, Uruguayan and Chilean flags were draped down the nose of the plane from the pilots’ windows.
Santiago-based JetSMART has operated numerous domestic flights in Chile since 2017 and in Argentina since 2018, as well as international routes that link cities in Peru, Brazil and Colombia to Santiago and Antofagasta.
The addition of Uruguay as a destination “means maintaining the pace of growth of the airline, which aims to transport 100 million passengers in the region,” Dario Ratinoff, JetSMART’s commercial manager, told Efe.
He said the idea is for JetSMART, recognized by the SkyTrax consulting firm as South America’s best low-cost airline of 2021, to “keep opening destinations and markets.”
Ratinoff said more routes could be added in Uruguay such as the seaside resort of Punta del Este, one of the country’s leading tourist attractions and its main beach hotspot during the Southern Hemisphere summer season.
Ignacio Curbelo, director-general of Uruguay’s Tourism Ministry, was on hand at the airport to greet the plane’s arrival and hailed the importance of this new travel option.
Curbelo told Efe the health situation with the Omicron coronavirus variant is complicated but that greater connectivity will provide a big boost to the summer tourist season.
JetSMART will operate four weekly flights between Santiago and Montevideo to bolster tourism links between Chile and Uruguay, he added.
That airline is controlled by Indigo Partners, a private equity firm co-founded by American investor Bill Franke that has stakes in several other low-cost carriers: Budapest-based Wizz Air, Mexico City-based Volaris and Denver, Colorado-based Frontier Airlines. EFE