QCOSTARICA – The more than US$600 cost of flights between Central American countries by Avianca and Copa airlines could soon be a thing of the past, with the increased flights by “low-cost” airline moving international passengers to and from the San Jose and Liberia airports.
Last year, the low-cost airlines moved 13% of the total 4.4 million international passengers using both terminals, according to Civil Aviatiion (Dirección General de Aviación Civil).
In 2011, the figure was 9.2% of the 4.2 million.
The low-cost airlines offer lower fares, but charge for many of the traditional services offered by conventional airlines.
Serving now the San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR) airports, the low-cost airlines include JetBlue with regular flights to Orlando, Boston and Fort Lauderdale; Spirit to Fort Lauderdale; Frontier to Denver; and the most recent, Southwest to Baltimore.
Both Spirit and Southwest have announced they will soon begin flights to Houston.
Flights on the low-cost airlines can be half or more of the cost of a ticket on a conventional airline.
Pablo Abarca, president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Cámara Nacional de Turismo – Canatur) noted that traditional airlines such as Avianca, now have promotional rates that did not happen before.
For example, last week Avianca was offering flights within Central America for US$249.
Tickets on Avianca and Copa, whose pricing are usually within a few dollars of each other, to Central America can cost over US$600; to Bogota (Colombia) or Lima (Peru) – a distance less that to New York, for example – can be over US$1.000.