El Salvador is the smallest but most populated country in Central America. San Salvador International Airport, also known as Comalapa International Airport, is the country's main international gateway. It is the main hub for TACA Airlines, part of the TACA Group. There are no regular scheduled domestic services in El Salvador. The Civil Aviation Authority of El Salvador is the regulatory body for aviation in the country and is also responsible for accident investigation.
Airports in El Salvador
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Avianca’s closure of its hub in Costa Rica has opened up opportunities for other carriers, particularly US carriers and Panama-based Copa. The Latin American airline group significantly downgraded its operation at the Costa Rican capital San Jose in late 2Q2013 as it cut five routes and reduced frequency on three others. Avianca previously considered San Jose as one of its four hubs but now calls it a focus city.
US carriers have been adding capacity to San Jose, with Delta launching service to Los Angeles, one of six destinations cut by Avianca. JetBlue has launched service to Fort Lauderdale.
Copa Airlines is also adding capacity to San Jose and will become the airport’s largest carrier in early Oct-2013, when it adds a ninth daily flight from Panama City. Avianca was using San Jose as a competing north-south hub although the number of transit passengers had been small compared to its other hubs and miniscule compared to Copa’s hub in Panama City.
TACA Peru is planning further expansion with the introduction of widebody aircraft, two A330s, which will be used initially to increase capacity to Buenos Aires, Bogota and Miami. The upcoming expansion at the Avianca-TACA subsidiary follows rapid growth by the Peruvian carrier over the last two years in both the domestic and international markets. TACA Peru earlier this year became the second largest carrier in the country’s fast-growing domestic market, a position it has had for several years in Peru’s international market.
The new fleet of Lima-based A330s should help Avianca-TACA close the gap with rival LATAM, which is by far the largest airline group in Peru and the broader South American market. Avianca-TACA has been focusing on expanding its Lima hub, which is well positioned as a north-south hub for the fast-growing intra-Latin American market, as congestion at its main hub at Bogota increases. TACA Peru is one of several TACA carriers being rebranded Avianca in 1H2013 as Avianca-TACA finally moves to a single brand three years after it completed its merger.
Avianca Brazil plans to slow down expansion in 2013, taking a hiatus following a growth spurt which saw the carrier more than double in size in less than two years. Avianca Brazil’s outlook remains bright despite Brazil’s challenging market, which has led the country’s two largest carriers to cut domestic capacity, as it is poised to benefit from anticipated membership in the Star Alliance and the possible acquisition of TAP Portugal by its parent company.
Avianca Brazil is 100% owned by Brazilian investment firm Synergy Group, which is also the largest shareholder in Avianca-TACA Holding, the parent of several carriers in other Latin America countries including four members of the Star Alliance. Synergy is also the only remaining bidder in the sale of Star member TAP Portugal, which has an extensive network in Brazil that would add significant value to Avianca Brazil’s all-domestic network.
Six carriers from Latin American airline groups Avianca-TACA and Copa are formally entering the Star Alliance on 21-Jun-2012, marking the first of several key alliance movements in the fast-growing Latin American market. The six carriers – which include two from Colombia and one each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama and Peru – will temporarily widen Star’s market-leading position in Latin America. But the gain will not offset the upcoming loss of Latin America’s largest airline TAM, which will be exiting Star within 24 months. Star would find itself as the third biggest alliance in the key Latin American market under the increasingly likely scenario of TAM joining new sister carrier LAN in oneworld and Brazil’s other major carrier, Gol, being affiliated with SkyTeam.
Star has enjoyed the status of Latin America’s largest alliance since TAM joined in May-2010. Star has since accounted for about 20% of total capacity in the Latin America and Caribbean region, compared to about 14% for oneworld and 10% for SkyTeam.
El Salvador’s Cuscatlán International Airport is considering a public-private partnership (PPP) in order to fund proposed airport upgrades. The airport’s 2030 master plan is estimated to cost SVC6.9 billion (USD800 million) to implement.
Aeromexico’s new codeshare agreement with Brazilian carrier TAM represents the second agreement Mexico’s largest carrier has signed with a non-SkyTeam carrier in the last two months. The partnerships reflect the need for both Star and SkyTeam carriers to access key markets in Latin and Central America that are not available through their respective alliance partners.
The Avianca-TACA relationship with Aeromexico, announced in Mar-2012, was surprising given that the Kriete family, which is a main shareholder in Avianca-TACA, is also a major holder in Aeromexico’s competitor Volaris. But Aeromexico has been pursuing a tie-up with Colombia’s largest carrier, Avianca, since it started Mexico City-Bogota flights in 2010. The chance was brushed aside once Avianca-TACA opted to join the Star Alliance, but now the agreement will include more connections than just Bogota as Avianca-TACA cited an ability to partner with Aeromexico on flights to Central and South America during the second half of this year.