Getting around in Peru by plane

Getting around in Peru by plane


As with the rest of the world, connectivity is one of the main challenges for Peru in the coming years.

The world is getting more and more connected and this means that Peru cannot stay behind. Being such a large country with a lot of isolated places, it is not an easy task for Peru to provide connectivity to all destinations but it can be said that under impulse of the large international telecom players such as Movistar and Claro, Peru has become a lot more connected virtually than it was a few years ago. Nevertheless this larger access to the World Wide Web and other sources of information create another need for connectivity; the physical connectivity. The necessity for people to travel, bring products to them and make accessible the fruits of a globalized world makes that a country needs a good network of roads and air routes connecting a country, its people and its economy.

This need for physical infrastructure is one of the issues a country such as Peru has difficulty coping with. There are many reasons for this which we will not elaborate too much here but just to name a few; informal economies not allowing the government to reap the necessary financial means, large scale corruption, as well as geographical obstacles such as mountains, jungle and unpredictable climates creating higher investment needs.


Due to this lack of progress in road infrastructure & connections it is no wonder that a country the size of Peru starts looking to other options to connect the country. This is something that airlines were keen to pick up and start pushing the government to start developing small secondary airfields to actual airports allowing for more cities to be connected via air. A lot of these developments and initial investments in infrastructure we often paid for by the airlines and by this acknowledging the potential value these new routes may have for the different airlines.  

Peru is being served by three international airports receiving international flights; Lima (about 99% of all international flights), Cusco (international flights from La Paz, Bolivia) and Arequipa (international flights from Chile) – there are other international airports but these do not operate any international flights at the moment. The main domestic airports in Peru, besides the ones mentioned above include; Juliaca, Puerto Maldonado, Tacna, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Tumbes, Talara, Jaen, Chachapoyas, Cajamarca, Huanuco, Huancayo, Tarapoto, Tingo Maria, Pucallpa and Iquitos.


The largest two domestic airlines in Peru; LATAM and Avianca were the ones to push the government to develop more airports but routes were rapidly also operated by smaller Peruvian airlines such as Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines and LC Peru. The growing necessity of internal air travel also created a secondary effect; over recent years, the number of Peru Airlines has increased rapidly with new players being added on an almost daily basis.


Many of these are so called Low Cost Carriers (LCC), options to fly cheaper eliminating all “extra” comforts and options one gets with the classic airlines. These cost reducing measures go from only limited hand luggage, to obligatory seat selection, limited inflight service and surcharges for any luggage incompliance. These measures allow these airlines to offer reduced ticket prices for domestic flights in Peru, cutting prices for some routes in half. It has to be said though that most of these airlines do not provide a very transparent booking system, allowing extra costs often add up to more than the actual ticket price.


The low cost carriers flying domestically in Peru are Viva Air and Sky Airline. Viva Air is a Colombian Airline and Sky Airline Chilean, two countries with other mayor players on the South American flight market – Avianca for Colombia and LATAM for Chile. This allows for some suspicion that these larger airlines are also behind these low cost carriers as Lufthansa did with German Wings some years ago. This would allow the airlines to fix their prices and allow for a double segment, increasing sales figures all together. This would also explain why Avianca has recently left Peru as a very active market with only operating between Lima and Cusco and even cutting some international routes such as Lima – Buenos Aires. LATAM on the other hand started with a booking system that reminds a lot of the online system these LCC often use with a lot of extras that have to be paid for.


Unfortunately in contrary to other countries where they have more experience with LCC, airports in Peru are already struggling with a lot of airports, especially the Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport, saturated making that the smallest issue can turn into a very disruptive problem with many flight delays. In these cases it is also obvious where the benefits for the larger airlines to make the investments made above pay off. If one airline misses their departure window this can disrupt the airlines next departures as often the available departure windows go to the larger airlines LATAM and Avianca before the smaller airlines.


So with all this what is the conclusion of the state airline travel in Peru is in? With a lot of new destinations opened up in recent years the number of destinations that can be reached by air has definitely increased as well as the number of flights to many of these destinations. With the new competitors and increasing number of national passengers prices have also come down slightly over the last couple of years. Nevertheless when it comes to service and punctuality there is still a lot of room for most airlines. Therefore if you would be traveling to Peru with limited time and schedule our recommendation would to stick with the regular airlines. If you have more time than budget than you may want to consider the low cost carriers but make sure to read the small print. Safe travels!