In 2017, the industry grew around 4% in terms of passengers, and we are maintaining our 23% market share so we are growing as the market does. We have 15 planes operating in Colombia, and in 2017, we changed our fleet from A320 to the A319, which is more efficient. The most important thing is that for the first time since LATAM entered this market, we are in the black in terms of net profit margin. That will give us a great deal of credibility for future growth in the company. When the operation is profitable, we have more opportunities to bring in more planes to the market. We are playing in Avianca's home market and that makes it difficult for us. We have gained a good position, though we hope to keep growing and positioning our brand. That is why we are moving to a hybrid model where we can lower fares and stimulate greater demand.
Executive Director, LATAM Airlines Colombia
General Manager, Turkish Airlines
On 1Q2016, we started the weekly Bogotá-Panama-Istanbul route. 2016 was a difficult year for Europe and Turkey and the airline industry has been affected accordingly. However, Turkish Airlines adapted its policies to overcome the situation and continued its development through Latin America and launched Bogotá flights in 2016. We carried out country studies on Latin America in general and more specifically Colombia and Panama before the upcoming launch. Colombia and Panama are two countries with buoyant commercial activities and are worth visiting too for tourism purposes. Flying to 120 countries through 300 destinations worldwide, Turkish Airlines showed interest in developing tourism and commercial activities between both countries and Turkey. The company was well received in both Colombia and Panama. Both of the countries are growing markets, and Turkish Airlines offers different options all around the world to travel for business purposes to those two countries.
Maria Consuelo Sanchez Fiorentini
General Manager, Iberia
Colombia is an extremely important market for Iberia, and the company has been here for the past 60 years. 2017 was important for us; our business class product in Colombia was ranked one of the best in Latin America. Another product that was launched last year, premium tourist, was also selected as one of the best. This product falls in between business and tourist classes and has found great acceptance in the Colombian market. It is an ever-changing industry, and new companies are being created as a result of all the market players that have entered. Colombia will continue to grow, and we must live up to our clients' expectations. There are many Latin American airlines in the Colombian market; however, European companies are also keen to operate in Colombia. In 2017, we announced three additional frequencies that will be launched in 2018. This increases the number of routes that are currently active on the Bogotá-Madrid route by 40%.
General Manager, SARPA
We initially started as an air charter company in Medellín when the new owners acquired it in 1996. We started with helicopters and worked primarily for Ecopetrol, based in Cucuta. Around 2005, the oil sector went down and our contract was discontinued. At that point, we started seeking new contracts and exploring the possibility of changing from rotatory wing to fixed wing aircrafts. In our business exploration, we noticed that critically ill patients did not have safe medical transport. We decided to start our air ambulance program and became the first company in Colombia to be certified as an air ambulance company. We have 13 aircrafts for both charter and air ambulance services. Rather than expanding we look more to create a network of partners that have our same high quality standards for medical transport in order to reach other destinations, creating accessibility and better patient outcomes. We also looking to expand the charter segment of our business.