O n the 9th of May, low-cost airline Viva Air Peru will inaugurate its services on Peruvian soil, directing its first plane from Lima to Iquitos. After having received permission by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the company has started selling tickets from as little as S/ 59.90 to most popular destinations in Peru. Viva Air Peru will offer eleven destinations; however the city of Huaraz has been overlooked, once again. The low-cost airline offers the following routes; Arequipa-Tacna-Arequipa, Cusco-Arequipa-Cusco, Cusco-Puerto Maldonado-Cusco, Lima-Cusco-Lima, Lima-Arequipa-Lima, Lima-Piura-Lima, Lima-Iquitos-Lima, Lima-Tarapoto-Lima, Lima-Trujillo-Lima, and Lima-Chiclayo-Lima.
The happening of natural disasters during the past month made pretty much clear how much Huaraz depends on its access roads from Lima and Casma (connection to Trujillo). Tourist stopped coming to the city and many products got scarce or their prices went up dramatically. The only way in or out was by air. The Airport Comandante FAP Germán Arias Graziani in Anta (30 minutes from Huaraz near Jangas) offered a solution, but it immediately also showed its shortcomings. The only passenger flights are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and LC Perú´s flights aren’t even half booked. According to the ground manager of LC Perú, their jets have a capacity of 37 passengers and normally cost around 139 U$ for a one way ticket. The fare is such an obstacle, that most tourists, let alone locales, won´t even consider buying a ticket, even though the flight is less than an hour and you´re touching the ground again.
In the past, some candidates running for mayor or regional governor have opted to expand the airport, and by doing so, so they explained, it should attract other airlines to use it and thus increase tourism numbers. No-one really every seemed to have tried because as soon as their campaigns were over, they forgot about their promises. One of the problems is the short length of the runway, a mere 3,050 metres. This only allows small jets to land and liftoff. Personally, I can´t understand that local tourism entrepreneurs and politicians in the past, have never managed to find a solution. This might indicate a lack of capabilities, or maybe a lack of interest.
On the other hand, and I can´t look into the books of Airline LC Perú so I don’t have info on any financial details, I understand that there might be a lack of demand. This is understandable because the company never has offered any decent discounts and apparently, people prefer to take an overnight bus for around 50 Soles, instead of flying and paying 460 Soles one-way. The difference is simply too big. I am absolutely convinced that there is a huge market for LC Perú in Huaraz and the surrounding areas; however, they will have to drop their fares dramatically.
No one can tell me that in an area with over 150,000 inhabitants, including many commuters, there will not be 50 people daily that need to go to Lima and are looking for a quick and comfortable manner. A quick calculation shows that if there were to be 15 people aboard on a one-way flight, at 139 U$, the company gathers as little as 2,000 U$. This income is receded because of expenses such as landing fees, fuel, maintenance and the cost of personnel so the question is how much would they make on their Huaraz-Lima route? Barely anything, nonetheless apparently enough to survive.
As Huaraz is sadly not on low-cost airline Viva Air Peru´s radar, and LC Perú keeps charging vast fares for their flights on only limited dates, the only manner of getting to Peru´s capital of extreme sports and mountaineering in the future is a 7-8 hours bus ride. That means, if the roads aren’t interrupted by rock fall, mudslides or any other natural disaster. Honestly, I expected that this discussion would heat up during the past month but it did not. Seemingly, most people in Huaraz are happy with the limited options of transportation, and life.