If all goes well with the permitting process, new Costa Rican carrier Air Costa Rica could be jetting people from San José to destinations in the U.S. and Central and South America before the end of the year.
Last week, Air Costa Rica had a public hearing before the Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), concluding the certification process to become an air operator. The company submitted its application in May 2014.
Final evaluation and approval from the DGAC normally takes some 30 days. In the meantime, the carrier is launching negotiations with aviation authorities in countries to which it plans to fly, general manager Carlos Víquez Jara said Monday.
Air Costa Rica has already filed authorization requests with authorities in Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Colombia. Víquez said daily direct routes from San José to those countries could start as soon as December.
The carrier is also preparing authorization requests for opening routes to Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru, but those negotiations could take up to six months, Víquez said. And Air Costa Rica is working to submit authorization requests to U.S. authorities to launch a nonstop flight to Miami next year. It also hopes to open routes to New York and Los Angeles.
The carrier’s marketing strategy will be based on quality service over discount service, Víquez said.
“We are not aiming for the low-cost niche but our rates will be cheaper than those from most current carriers,” he said. “We will be an ‘intermediate-cost’ carrier.”
The carrier plans to flaunt its Tico identity: Planes will be painted with the colors of the Costa Rican flag and will sport decorations evoking the country’s natural beauties.
“And they will display a big Pura Vida! sign,” Víquez said.
In addition, all flight crew members will be Costa Rican and they’ll wear uniforms with the flag colors.
On flights lasting more than 90 minutes, passengers will get traditional Tico meals, he said.
“The route to Miami, for example, is anticipated to have a 9 a.m. departure, meaning the menu will include a Tico breakfast with Gallo Pinto, tortillas, eggs, sour cream and coffee. For other schedules we will offer casados — Costa Rica’s signature dish — as we want our Tico passengers to feel at home inside our planes,” Víquez said.
The company’s staff currently consists of some 30 employees at its offices in San José, but plans are to expand the staff to some 100 employees by year’s end.