Gilda Velez United Airlines Sales Manager | Colombia |
1 How is the situation of United Airlines in Colombia?
Colombia is a very important market for the United Airlines network of destinations. We have resumed our 2019 capacity since June, with our flights from Bogota to Houston; operating 2 daily frequencies and one to New York to Newark Airport.
2 How do you see the progress of the American Airlines in conquering Colombia and in those of Colombia in conquering the United States? is there a market for everyone?
United has been attentive to market trends and the recovery of the industry, following the opening of borders. Undoubtedly, the increase in demand and the response of the market in the recovery process has been favorable; and we are optimistic, expecting to continue to see an increase in operation.
3 What was 2020 like and how is the market recovering?
The management of the airline during the last year was key during this crisis, taking some difficult measures, to ensure the survival of the company. Our CEO Scott Kirby announced that, in March 2021, money was no longer lost; this being a fairly favorable scenario.
As vaccination progresses in the country, in the United States and in the region, travelers have begun planning their vacations to visit friends and family so United has been adjusting its itineraries appropriately. As of June we have more flights to Latin America and resume more than 100% of our operation in the region, compared to 2019.
4 How do you see the recovery of colombia’s market compared to other countries?
United resumed operations in the market in October 2020, with our direct service to Houston and then in December adding the frequency to New York/Newark.
The work done and the acceptance we have received has allowed us to consolidate our operations in Colombia, making our station successful in conjunction with the countries of the region. We are optimistic that we will continue to consolidate and strengthen our position in the Colombian market and worldwide.
5 What does United Airlines offer its customers right now to choose from?
In terms of safety, passengers can rest easy when travelling with United. We have been very rigorous in the implementation of all biosecurity protocols and demanding with permanent cleaning procedures, from aircraft to all points of contact, with social distancing, the mandatory use of masks, cleaning of aircraft, use of antimicrobial sprays, as well as the implementation of better technological tools, to facilitate the digital and travel experience.
At United we are working so that passengers keep choosing us because they want to do it and not because they have to. We remain focused on improving and investing in the customer experience, through improvements to our onboard products and services, as well as renovating waiting areas in our United Club hubs and lounges, as we have done in Newark and Denver.
To give our customers more flexibility when purchasing their ticket with United, we have extended the exchange fee waiver for standard economy tickets, with international departures purchased through July 31, 2021. We know that travel plans can change, so we want the travel experience to be as simple as possible for the passenger.
Likewise, United has been an industry leader in sustainability issues, we were the first American airline to announce a firm commitment to reduce the carbon footprint by half by 2050, leading for the revolution against climate change, investing in the development of sustainable fuels and decarbonization technologies that reduce greenhouse gases.
6 Do you think that the Colombian market gives for more occupants or will soon be saturated?
Speaking of the market in Colombia, at United we recovered 100% of flights that we had before the pandemic, as the vaccination process progresses, the number of passengers will continue to increase. The scenario is still very dynamic, and we see that flight offers have increased due to demand.
The lifting of travel restrictions in the vast majority of countries in the region facilitates capacity-building. For the other international and intercontinental destinations, a recovery is still expected in the medium term. We believe that as global vaccination increases, more routes will be re-established for the third and fourth quarters of the year.
7- What new destinations does United have in America or Colombia? why has Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla never been thought of?
At United we are focused on the reactivation and operational efficiency of the routes we have, strengthening our routes to the hubs in Houston and Newark, points of entry for our passengers from Bogota, and offering extraordinary facilities and connections to more than 238 cities within the U.S. and 41 countries around the world.
We also rely on our partners in the Star Alliance network, where they connect with our routes in Bogotá, from the main cities of Colombia, including Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and Pereira. We continue to assess the demand and opportunities offered by the market, as the sector recovers, and we continue to constantly monitor the various variables to respond in a timely manner.
8- The Colombian market recovered faster than you thought or how did you expect?
We believe at the beginning, and we have already had proof of this, that those holiday destinations are being strengthened, such as, for example, the beaches of Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and those that offer facilities for visits and trips between family and friends. The great cities of the world will undoubtedly also, in their time, attract large numbers of people. We identified this trend in Colombia, so the country has been no exception.
9- These for you is a utopia that is being experienced in Colombia of so many aircraft in the midst of the greatest crisis in the history of aviation.
With current travel restrictions to various international destinations (outside the U.S.) U.S.), the vast majority of our travelers, from Colombia, travel to the U.S. final destination. However, we expect to see growth and increased volume of passengers traveling to other latitudes as more people are vaccinated, the pandemic decreases and travel restrictions are removed. Therefore, at United we continue to evaluate our operations globally, to respond in accordance with market developments.
10- What did United Colombia learn from the pandemic?
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has negatively impacted the air transport and tourism business, with quite considerable losses in the industry. At United since the beginning of the crisis, we have continuously invested in security and innovation, to overcome the crisis and maintain our business. Maintaining our main priority, the safety of our passengers and collaborators, our challenge is to reduce the fears of travel, restore confidence through the effective demonstration of the biosecurity protocols we offer, so that you have flights, safe, quiet and pleasant. It is here that our strengthened relationship with travel agencies plays a fundamental role, because we know that now more than ever, we need to be as present as possible with the client to solve all the doubts they have and help them feel safer when making their travel plans.
We have been working under the premises of our Vice President of Sales worldwide, Doreen Burse, returning to the new and with the commitment not to leave any customers behind, despite all the changes that due to the pandemic have had to be made.