Colombia is in the midst of the biggest renovation of its airline industry in the history of the country as international and domestic air traffic continues to grow, says the Air Transport Association of Colombian (ATAC).
“It is a $16 billion renovation, which could be increased, making it the largest renovation in the history of the country,” ATAC’s assistant economic director told Colombian online newspaper Mira on Thursday.
The ongoing renovation, which involves the replacing of aging aircraft and the purchase of new ones to expand capacity and the number of routes, comes as a result of Colombia’s efforts to solidify itself in the global marketplace as an international tourism and business destination.
ATAC expects international flights to and from Colombia to increase 7% during the course of 2010. Flights during the first two months of this year are already up 6.5% compared to the same period in 2009.
To ATAC, the arrival of international airlines such as Dutch Antilles Express Airlines and Lufthansa, and the addition of new international routes by Colombian airlines, are a testament to the growth expected in this industry for the coming years.
It is not only international traffic that is booming in Colombia. Domestically, Colombian airlines have also seen impressive growth. Compared to 2009, domestic air traffic is up 39% during the first few months of 2010, reaching 1.9 million passengers.
While the drastic growth may come as a result of the increased amount of seats and up to 40% discounts in ticket prices, ATAC still predicts a steady rise in the coming years for domestic airline traffic.
Projections from international aircraft manufacturers, like European-based Airbus SAS, also affirm the optimism shown from the Colombian airline association.
AIrbus estimates that Colombian airlines will need to purchase 122 planes with the capacity to hold over 100 passengers in the next twenty years in order to serve the increased demand in air-traffic and replace an aging fleet.
Airbus expects Colombia’s fleet to more than double from 2008 to 2028, jumping from 60 to 152.