Colombia Set For International Capacity Record

church in Medellin Colombia

Medellin, Colombia.

Credit: robertharding/Alamy Stock Photo

Nonstop international capacity to and from Colombia is set to reach record levels before the end of the year, helped by the launch of leisure airline Edelweiss’ inaugural flights from Switzerland later this week.

Routes’ analysis of data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that weekly international capacity will be around 518,000 two-way seats from early December, with the monthly total expected to reach almost 2.3 million seats. This tops the previous monthly high of 2.14 million seats set in August 2023 and marks a rise of 36% compared with the level achieved in December 2019 before the pandemic.

Gilberto Salcedo, vice president of tourism at tourism organization ProColombia, says Colombia will close 2023 with 22 new international routes, following on from the 34 that started during the previous 12 months.

New services have included Avianca’s flights between Medellin and Quito, Ecuador; VivaAerobus’ service from Bogota to Monterrey, Mexico; and JetSmart’s operations from Medellin to Lima, Peru. Additionally, Edelweiss will on Nov. 22 begin flying from Zurich to Bogota and Cartagena.

The U.S. is Colombia’s largest international market, accounting for around 25% of all international seats, while Panama is second on 15.6% thanks to Copa Airlines’ hub that connects the Americas. Mexico accounts for 9.3% of capacity in third position. Compared with pre-pandemic levels, capacity in November 2023 is up by about 41% to the U.S., by 36% to Panama and by 18% to Mexico.



This air service growth is helping to drive inbound tourism to Colombia. Salcedo tells Aviation Week Network that the country attracted a record 4.5 million international visitors in 2022 and he anticipates the number will be higher this year. Looking ahead, he says that ProColombia is focused on boosting frequencies to its core markets, but also hopes to attract new routes from unserved cities.

“About 80% of our total traffic comes from 13 markets, which are mainly in the Americas, but also include European countries like Spain, Germany, France and the UK,” Salcedo adds. “We’re therefore concentrating our efforts on increasing connectivity from those markets, but we are seeing new opportunities from destinations in the Middle East and unserved points in Europe.”

Salcedo says much work is being done to change the perceptions of Colombia in the minds of international tourists to promote the country’s natural, cultural and historical attractions. He explains that Colombia holds about 10% of the planet’s biodiversity and has six distinct tourism regions, each with its own characteristics and customs.

“The upcoming Routes Americas 2024 in Bogota will be the perfect occasion for the sector to see the progress we have made and our country’s potential as an investment partner, as well as our unique tourism offer,” Salcedo says.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.