¿Qué Sigue? Airline Entrepreneur William Shaw Talks About The Launch Of Ultra Air, The Newest Colombian Low-Cost Carrier
The 20th annual Customer Experience (CX) Summit organized by BPro, Colombia’s BPO industry trade association took place in Cartagena this year, and was bigger and better attended than ever. Held at the Hotel Hilton Cartagena Resort, the event brought industry heavyweights from throughout The Americas, and from across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Colombian low cost airline startup Ultra Air’s founder William Shaw was a keynote speaker at the event, where Finance Colombia’s Executive Editor Loren Moss was able to speak to him about the launch of his new airline.
Finance Colombia: First congratulations on the successful lunch of Ultra. A lot of people doubted you, but you got it going. So how’s the first quarter or so been for the first few months, how has it been for you?
William Shaw: We’ve been hitting every single one of our numbers, we have over 200.000 people who have flown with Ultra thus far and we’ve captured a 5% market share in the routes we operate, so we are extremely happy with the results. Thus far we’re only a 2-month-old airline, we’re barely starting, we’ve signed 6 planes, we have four of them operating in Colombia, the fifth plane should arrive this week and the sixth plane should arrive by the end of the month.
Finance Colombia: Now there’s a lot going on right now, it looks like as soon as Ultra came there’s a big shake up right now in the airline industry here in Colombia, what’s your take on this? I don’t know if it’s a merger or this interesting realignment of some of the competitors joining forces where before they were better seen as competitors.
William Shaw: Well, I think you know, given COVID and given the weakness that it has caused a lot of airlines, consolidation was inevitable. I’m just really happy to see that people are choosing the low-cost model, right? Because what people want to do is travel low cost, people don’t want to pay more to get to the same place.
Finance Colombia: Great, so what are your prospects? How far and how fast do you think that Ultra is going to grow? You started the previous scrappy upstart, now you have the new scrappy upstart. Do you have plans for flying internationally, do you have plans to go beyond the domestic market? You said some interesting things about [when you were growing] Viva Colombia but there was a problem as you went into Peru; and then you also mentioned some interesting things with the US market as far as Colombians flying to the US…So tell me about Ultra, it sounds like you have that figured out and it sounds like you have plans beyond just the borders of Colombia.
William Shaw: We are the very first airline to be certified under RAC121; that’s the Colombian air regulation, air travel regulations, we’re the first and only airline certified under RAC121 and we are extremely happy and proud because this is a very stringent, very, very strict protocol on safety and in all the different procedures in aviation, these new procedures don’t allow us to fly internationally until a year after we start operations, so in 2023 we’ll be looking to cross the border. We can’t fly internationally thus far, that’s why we’re focusing on the Colombian domestic market.
Finance Colombia: Wonderful, it’s great to see you grow.
William Shaw: Well thank you very much and thank you for your time.
Photo: Loren Moss