Colombian startup Ultra Air takes its first flight

Today, Colombian startup Ultra Air started flying in the South American country. Ultra Air has organized its first flight from José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) in Medellín and aims to become the newest low-cost success in South America. Let’s investigate further.

The new carrier in South America

Ultra Air is an airline in the making for two years. Led by former Interjet CEO William Shaw, the airline is looking to operate domestic and international flights in Colombia and Latin America, using an Airbus A320 family fleet.

According to, Ultra Air operated its first flight today, introducing the airline to the Colombian public. The airline departed and landed in Medellín, Colombia, for a flight that lasted just 24 minutes.

William Shaw said,

“Ultra Air has arrived to fly with you and for you. We are here to energize the market, create jobs, democratize commercial air transport and bring more value to the tourism value chain. Ultra Air expects to handle up to 2.5 million passengers in its first year of operation.

According to its website, Ultra Air will officially begin flying on Wednesday, February 23. The new airline is already selling tickets on its official website.


Photo: Ultra Air.

The newcomer

Being a new airline in Colombia will not be an easy task for Ultra Air. The South American carrier must compete directly with established brands like Avianca, LATAM and low-cost carriers like Viva. Nevertheless, Ultra Air expects to compete directly in the low-cost market and gain a market share of up to 22%, according to William Shaw.

Starting next week, Ultra Air will start flying on the following routes: Bogotá-Medellín, Bogotá-Cali, Bogotá-Cartagena, Bogotá-Santa Marta, Bogotá-San Andrés, Medellín-Cartagena, Medellín-Santa Marta, Santa Marta -Pereira and Cartagena-Pereira. Since the sale of its tickets, Ultra Air claims to have already sold 65,000 tickets.

Let’s do a quick fare comparison for Ultra Air’s first week of flying. For example, a flight between Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia’s two main cities, has a minimum price of US$27, according to Ultra Air’s website, traveling between March 1 and March 3. A similar flight with Ultra Air’s competitor Viva has a minimum fare of US$52. Both are the most basic tariffs offered by these low-cost operators.

After Ultra Air’s first flight, Airbus welcomed the airline. The European OEM said Ultra Air will initially fly five A320ceo aircraft on domestic routes across the country. Additionally, Ultra Air plans to increase the size of its fleet to open more routes in the coming years. Ultra Air is already eyeing several international destinations, from Curaçao to Mexico City.

Ultra Air’s Airbus A320 will be able to carry up to 180 passengers, Airbus said. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Airbus has sold over 1,100 aircraft and has unfilled orders for over 500 units. Currently, there are more than 700 Airbus aircraft active in the region, which means that the European supplier has nearly 60% market share in the region.

Ultra Air Map 2

These are Ultra Air’s domestic routes. Photo: Ultra Air.

The Colombian market

In 2021, the Colombian aviation market had 30.5 million passengers, according to data provided by Aerocivil de Colombia.

These figures are 26% lower than pre-pandemic traffic levels in Colombia, as the country was still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, Colombia started 2021 with half the passengers it had in 2019 and rallied, rebounding to pre-pandemic levels. In November and December 2021, Colombia already had 3.0% and 5.8% more passengers than in 2019, an incredible recovery unique to this Latin American country.

Would you like to travel on board the Ultra Air fleet? Let us know in the comments below.

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