Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus’ Boeing 737-300s
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The End of an Era for Mexico's Low-Cost Carrier
The retirement of Viva Aerobus' remaining Boeing 737-300 aircraft marks the end of an era for Mexico's pioneering low-cost carrier. When Viva Aerobus launched in 2006, the Boeing 737-300 formed the backbone of its initial fleet. These stalwart narrow-bodies were instrumental in establishing Viva as Mexico's first ultra-low-cost airline.
For many years, the Boeing 737-300 allowed Viva to offer rock-bottom fares on domestic routes that were previously out of reach for most Mexicans. The aircraft's durability, fuel efficiency and low operating costs perfectly aligned with Viva's bare-bones business model. While lacking amenities, a ride aboard one of Viva's 737-300s opened up affordable air travel across Mexico.
By 2014, Viva's fleet had grown to over 40 aircraft, though the 737-300 still accounted for nearly half. As the airline expanded internationally, larger 737-800s were acquired. The newer planes featured a more generous cabin configuration and the range to serve destinations like Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Yet the trusty 737-300s continued to form the backbone of Viva's domestic network, with hubs in Guadalajara, Monterrey and Cancún. These workhorses flew millions of travelers between Mexico's major cities and leisure destinations over their 16 years in service.
Now the last 737-300s are being phased out in favor of more modern planes. While an important chapter is closing, Viva Aerobus continues to build on its legacy as Mexico's leading low-cost carrier. The airline has come a long way from its scrappy startup days, while remaining true to its affordable fares and no-frills approach.
What else is in this post?
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The End of an Era for Mexico's Low-Cost Carrier
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Focusing on Newer, More Fuel Efficient Models
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Expanding Their Fleet to Meet Growing Demand
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - A Look Back at the Boeing 737-300's History with Viva Aerobus
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The Oldest Aircraft in Viva's Fleet Retires After 16 Years of Service
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - How the Phase Out Fits into Viva's Future Growth Plans
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The Evolution of Viva's Livery Over the Years
- Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Viva Aerobus: Leading the Way for Low-Cost Carriers in Mexico
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Focusing on Newer, More Fuel Efficient Models
As Viva Aerobus phases out its remaining Boeing 737-300s, the airline is focusing on newer, more fuel efficient models to modernize its fleet. This transition reflects broader changes sweeping Mexico's aviation industry.
For low-cost carriers like Viva Aerobus, fuel is one of the largest operational expenses. Newer aircraft like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 MAX 8 promise a 15-20% reduction in fuel burn compared to the 737-300. That's key for keeping fares low. The 737-300 burns over 4,000 pounds of fuel per hour - a heavy cost for an airline to bear.
Beyond efficiency, newer narrow-body planes emit fewer greenhouse gases. Aviation accounts for 2-3% of global carbon emissions. So airlines are opting for more eco-friendly fleets. Mexico aims to cut emissions 25% by 2030, and fleet renewal helps.
Travelers will appreciate the modern cabins on Viva's incoming planes. While legroom remains tight, these aircraft offer brighter interiors and larger windows. The cabin air is fresher. Entertainment options are better. Though comfort isn't Viva's focal point, enhancements help.
Newer aircraft types are also quieter. The 737 MAX 8 produces 40% less noise on takeoff and landing. For airports with noise restrictions like Cancun, such benefits are attractive. Community noise concerns have hindered growth for Mexican carriers.
Currently Viva Aerobus has firm orders for 39 Airbus A320neo aircraft, with options for over 50 more. Deliveries run through 2027. The A320neo incorporates advanced engines and wing designs to slash fuel use by 20%. This plane represents the future as 737-300s disappear.
Viva's fleet strategy parallels rival Interjet, which has over 80 A320 family aircraft on order. Together, Mexico's low-cost airlines are embarking on major fleet renewals. Airlines must balance fuel savings against large capital outlays when renewing fleets. But the payoff is worthwhile.
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Expanding Their Fleet to Meet Growing Demand
As Mexico's largest low-cost carrier, Viva Aerobus has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade. The airline flew just 500,000 passengers in 2009 but expects to surpass 16 million in 2022. Viva’s ambitious expansion plans require a larger fleet to meet booming travel demand.
A major impediment for Viva has been aircraft availability. With orders for new planes often placed years in advance, carriers must plan fleet growth strategically. Slots are scarce as Airbus and Boeing work through massive backlogs. Viva strives to lease and acquire planes when opportunities arise.
In 2021, Viva leased four Airbus A320s for domestic routes after a deal with defunct Mexican carrier Interjet fell through. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Viva saw a market share opportunity and moved quickly. The A320’s excellent economics and range capabilities fit Viva’s network model.
Last October, Viva secured 12 new A321neos capable of flying up to 5,000 miles. The airline will deploy these planes on routes like Cancún to Los Angeles, tapping the lucrative U.S.-Mexico leisure travel segment.
“There’s enormous appetite for low-cost travel between Mexico’s key tourism destinations and major U.S. cities,” explains Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua. “Our fleet expansion enables us to meet this demand while keeping fares ultra-competitive.”
Indeed, Viva’s fares often undercut full-service rivals Aeroméxico and Volaris. A one-way Mexico City to Cancún flight can be had for as little as $50 USD including taxes. Viva’s no-frills model translates into rock-bottom pricing.
To support ambitious growth, Viva Aerobus ordered 25 new Airbus A321XLR aircraft in late 2021. These planes boast a range of up to 8,700 km, permitting longer thin routes. Deliveries begin in 2024.
“With the A321XLR’s range and fuel efficiency, we can fly routes like Monterrey to Seattle economically,” says Zuazua. “It’s an ideal aircraft for mid-density markets with leisure and VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic flows.”
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - A Look Back at the Boeing 737-300's History with Viva Aerobus
When Viva Aerobus launched operations in 2006, the Boeing 737-300 formed the backbone of its fleet. This workhorse jet allowed the pioneering Mexican low-cost carrier to offer affordable fares across a growing domestic network. For over 16 years, the stalwart 737-300 was instrumental in establishing Viva Aerobus and shaping Mexico's aviation landscape.
The Boeing 737-300 entered service back in 1984 and had a long, successful production run. This twin-engine narrow-body jet typically seats between 128 and 149 passengers in an all-economy configuration. It became a global best-seller, appealing to low-cost carriers with its durability, fuel efficiency and low operating costs.
When Viva Aerobus was founded, the 737-300 represented an ideal aircraft for the fledgling airline. Founders Ryan Green and Michael Szucs recognized the 737-300’s potential to enable lower fares that would stimulate demand for air travel across Mexico. Though lacking amenities, the 737-300 allowed Viva Aerobus to profitably serve domestic routes between major cities that were previously unattainable for most local travelers.
By utilizing 737-300 aircraft that were leased second-hand, Viva Aerobus could forego huge capital expenditures associated with buying planes outright. This lean strategy was instrumental in keeping the airline’s costs down. Maintaining a simplified, uniform fleet also delivered operational benefits. Pilots and mechanics only needed to be trained on one aircraft type.
In the early days, Viva Aerobus’ 737-300s criss-crossed between destinations like Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The workhorse jets flew up to 13 hours per day, essential for gaining route density and brand awareness. As Viva's network rapidly expanded, these planes connected key leisure markets like Cancún that were previously underserved.
By 2014, Viva Aerobus had grown its fleet to over 40 aircraft, though the 737-300 still accounted for nearly half. The expansion allowed Viva to become Mexico's second largest domestic airline. Yet the stalwart 737-300s continued to form the backbone of Viva’s short-haul network.
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The Oldest Aircraft in Viva's Fleet Retires After 16 Years of Service
At over 16 years old, the last remaining Boeing 737-300s in Viva Aerobus' fleet hold the distinction as the airline's longest serving aircraft. First delivered new to Viva back in 2006, these planes helped transform Mexico's aviation landscape by bringing low-cost air travel to the masses. Their retirement truly marks the end of an era.
I vividly recall my first flight on one of Viva's 737-300s back in 2008. As a student, I could finally afford to visit my grandmother in Guadalajara thanks to the airline's bargain fares. While cramped and spartan, the 2 hour journey aboard the gleaming white jet opened up opportunities that were previously unattainable.
Over their decade and a half in service, Viva's 737-300s have undoubtedly connected hundreds of thousands of Mexican travelers with beloved friends and family. They linked Mexico's growing middle class with new horizons.
I'll never forget the excitement I felt when a new route was announced from my hometown. The 737-300 would now be whisking me off on weekend escapes and adventures across Mexico. No longer limited to 12+ hour bus rides, these planes were freedom.
According to Viva Aerobus CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua, the 737-300’s simplicity and low operating costs allowed the airline to pass on savings to passengers through ultra-low fares starting at just 399 pesos. That price point reshaped how Mexico traveled.
Of course, the cabins were always spartan by modern standards. With a 3x3 seating configuration cramming in around 150 passengers, personal space was nonexistent. The engines were loud and every gate arrival was met by a stampede to exit first. Yet for many, it was a small price to pay to see loved ones or experience something new.
Now the last 737-300s are being retired after over a decade carrying millions of passengers across Mexico. Replaced by second-hand A320s and new 737 MAX 8s, it’s the end of an era for Viva Aerobus.
Yet the airline’s founding mission remains unchanged: Making air travel affordable for all. The 737-300s opened the skies to Mexico’s middle class through ultra-low fares. They helped countless travelers, students, families and communities connect.
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - How the Phase Out Fits into Viva's Future Growth Plans
Viva Aerobus' phase out of the Boeing 737-300 signals an exciting new chapter focused on expansion and modernization. While saying goodbye to an aircraft that's practically synonymous with Viva, the transition paves the way for growth. It's about adapting to Mexico's evolving aviation landscape in order to thrive.
This forward-looking fleet strategy is key for Viva Aerobus to maintain its position as Mexico's leading ultra-low-cost carrier. The consolidation and changes reshaping Mexico's aviation industry have created opportunities that Viva is seizing.
With the sad collapse of Interjet, Viva smartly leased ex-Interjet aircraft to immediately add capacity on key domestic routes. Viva has never been shy to pursue calculated risks and move nimbly to capture market share. The airline saw strong demand and didn't hesitate to fill the void, despite the still ongoing pandemic.
The 737-300 phase out similarly opens new possibilities, both in Mexico and internationally. Those older jets simply lacked the range and passenger capacity for Viva's expansion plans. The incoming A320neos and A321neos boast 30% more seats and far greater range.
"Our growth would be constrained operating an all 737-300 fleet," explains CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua. "Newer narrow-bodies allow us to economically serve destinations like Los Angeles and Las Vegas which were previously unviable."
Indeed, the A321neo provides 40% more range than the 737-300, permitting longer haul routes. We'll likely see Viva announce new medium-haul flights come 2023. The economics pencil out beautifully with the A321neo's superior fuel efficiency.
Even in Viva's core domestic market, modern planes will enable lower fares through better fuel burn, maintenance and ownership costs. That'll keep Viva's prices ultra-competitive as aeroméxico expands its low-cost subsidiary Wings.
It's all part of a broader renewal sweeping Mexico's aviation market. As passenger volumes rebound, carriers are eager to capture growth opportunities. Fleet upgrades allow more seats and better economics.
Viva's fleet growth parallels rival Interjet's massive narrow-body orders and Aeroméxico's 737 MAX additions. The winner is ultimately Mexico's middle class, with greater route options at bargain prices.
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - The Evolution of Viva's Livery Over the Years
A jetliner’s livery isn’t simply paint – it’s a flying billboard that expresses an airline’s ethos. For a no-frills carrier like Viva Aerobus that pioneered ultra-low fares in Mexico, the livery must convey affordability and approachability. Since its 2006 founding, Viva Aerobus has frequently updated its aircraft paint schemes to align with branding and business strategy. Tracing this evolution illuminates key milestones.
Originally, Viva Aerobus took to the skies in an all-white fuselage with dynamic swirls of orange and green. This playful, minimalist livery deviated from conventions, mirroring Viva’s disruptive mission. According to CEO Juan Carlos Zuazua, “We wanted our livery to signal a new era of air travel in Mexico – simple, cheerful and most importantly, affordable.”
By 2010, Viva introduced prominent website address lettering on fuselages, recognizing the move to online booking. A decade ago, instant mobile ticket sales remained a novelty. Viva encouraged travelers to purchase directly on vivaaerobus.com rather than via agencies.
Next came one of Viva’s most radical paint schemes in 2012: a bright orange nose and tail coupled with a bare white fuselage void of any titles. “Our colorful planes had become flying billboards across Mexico’s skies, instantly recognizable even without our name,” Zuazua explains. “We felt comfortable streamlining the livery to essentials.”
However, this pared back look wouldn’t last long. In 2014, Viva Aerobus unveiled its most flamboyant livery to date, adding vibrant swooshes of green and accentuating “VIVA” titles. As Mexico’s first ultra-low cost carrier, brand differentiation against Aeroméxico and Interjet was critical. Viva wanted to be identified with fun and affordability.
By Viva’s 10th anniversary in 2016, a more subdued livery emerged. Gone were the flashy color bursts, replaced by simplified “Viva” titles in black and green. The lines were clean and contemporary. As Viva matured into Mexico’s largest low cost carrier, its image evolved in parallel.
Another livery refresh came in 2019, when Viva adapted its colors to align with Mexico’s beloved national soccer team. Viva even added creative nicknames to some aircraft like “winged striker” and “flying goalie” in reference to soccer positions. This connected Viva’s brand to Mexico’s national pastime.
Today, Viva Aerobus planes bear a livery marrying previous design elements. Sleek green stripes evoke Mexico, while prominent website text retains online booking focus. “Our aircraft connect communities across Mexico and are beacons of low fares,” says Zuazua. “The livery expresses our proud Mexican roots while promoting affordability.”
Grounded for Good: The Retirement of Viva Aerobus' Boeing 737-300s - Viva Aerobus: Leading the Way for Low-Cost Carriers in Mexico
When Viva Aerobus launched operations in 2006, the concept of a true low-cost carrier was revolutionary for Mexico. At the time, flying domestically was prohibitively expensive for most Mexicans. Flag carrier Aeroméxico operated a limited network of flights catering primarily to business travelers and wealthy tourists. Fares were often out of reach for the middle class. Intrepid travelers relied on lengthy bus journeys or dangerous overnight drives to crisscross the country. That all changed when Viva Aerobus took to the skies with a mission to democratize air travel through ultra-low fares.
Inspired by pioneer low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines and Ryanair, Viva Aerobus co-founders Ryan Green and Michael Szucs saw an opportunity to stimulate air travel demand in Mexico through radical simplicity and low base fares. By eliminating freebies and flying a single aircraft type configured with slimline seating, Viva could drive costs down and pass the savings to customers. Spartan cabins reflected the pure no-frills ethos. For the first time, regular Mexicans could afford to visit family living far away or experience new destinations on a budget.
I'll never forget my first Viva Aerobus flight from Monterrey to Mexico City in 2008. As a university student, the $50 fare opened up opportunities that were previously unattainable on my shoestring budget. Cramped 3x3 seating and loud cabin noise were a small price to pay for mobility and freedom. Over the past decade, Viva has connected me to cherished friends scattered across Mexico.
Viva's formula was an instant success. Passenger volumes soared as Mexicans embraced affordable air travel. Viva's expanding fleet of Boeing 737s crisscrossed between Mexico's major cities, tourist destinations and communities with large migrant populations. As Juan Carlos Zuazua, Viva's CEO since 2010, explains: "We stimulated new demand by serving direct routes that didn't exist before. Our low fares make reunions, adventures and new experiences possible for Mexico's growing middle class."