Estuardo Ortiz, CEO and founder of JetSmart Airlines, was honored with the Latin America and Caribbean Executive Leadership Award at the 2023 Airline Strategy Awards.
The Airline Strategy Awards is an initiative by FlightGlobal, Airline Business, and Korn Ferry that aims to spotlight the performance and innovative strategies in the aviation industry. It recognizes airlines and leaders who have shown impressive performance and robust strategy in their operations.
Photo: Estuardo Ortiz, founder and CEO of JetSmart Airlines, on stage to receive the Executive Leadership Award at 2023 Airline Strategy Awards. (Photo credit: FlightGlobal)
As the low-cost carrier nears its seventh year in operation, Ortiz has been lauded for his executive leadership, a key element in JetSmart’s work within Latin America. The award selection process involved an independent panel of experts and a nomination procedure, according to the organizers.
This year’s regional winners included Singapore Airlines in Asia Pacific, Alaska Airlines in North America, Pegasus in Europe, and Airlink in the Middle East and Africa. Lewis Harper, the editor of Airline Business, noted JetSmart’s ability to recover and even plan expansions into new markets, including Colombia, despite the many hurdles for an industry ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ortiz, from the award ceremony in London, expressed his appreciation for the honor and credited it to the collective efforts of everyone at the company.
“I am deeply grateful to the entire JetSmart team, our rockstars, and also to the customers who have trusted us,” said Ortiz at the event. “We initiated as a startup airline, and in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, we were operating 17 aircraft in Chile and Argentina. Then, when restrictions eased and we were returning to normal operations, we faced the fuel price crisis that reached historical records.”
He also highlighted the opportunities that the low-cost carrier has managed to take advantage of, such as the recent start of operations in Peru and expansion plans for Colombia.
Founded in Santiago in 2016, JetSmart is an airline with domestic operations in Chile, Argentina, and Peru, and at least 70 routes across South America. It has a fleet of 25 aircraft, comprising 20 Airbus A320 models and 5 A321neo, which have transported over 20 million passengers to date.
JetSmart is part of the portfolio airlines that have received major support from US investment fund Indigo Partners, which also has positions in Frontier in the United States, Wizz Air in Europe, Volaris in Mexico, Lynx in Canada, and Cebu Pacific in Asia.
Indigo Partners is a private equity firm specializing in acquisitions and strategic investments in the aviation industry and related sectors. The company, based in Phoenix, blends management expertise with successful investment experience.