Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Avianca CEO to Lead Latin American Airline Group Abra

3 months ago

Avianca CEO Adrian Neuhauser will take the helm of the Latin American airline group Abra in January. He will pass the reins of the Bogotá-based carrier to its Deputy CEO Frederico Pedreira.

Neuhauser, who oversaw the U.S. bankruptcy restructuring of Avianca into something of a low-cost global carrier, will oversee Latin America’s second largest airline group in his new role. Abra, which includes Avianca and Brazilian carrier Gol, is second only to Latam Airlines in size in the region. Neuhauser replaces Constantino de Oliveira Junior who has led Abra since its creation last year.

“I have full confidence in [Pedreira] and his leadership in executing Avianca’s next steps,” Neuhauser said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him and the entire team for many years to come.”

Avianca plane

Neuhauser’s promotion to Abra, and Pedreira’s at Avianca comes amid a broader management shuffle at the group. Oliveira will become executive chairman of Abra’s board in January, and current chairman Roberto Kriete will step down but remain on the board.

Abra, despite its size, is not as large as initially envisioned. A planned merger between Avianca and Colombian discounter Viva Air ran afoul of competition regulators, and Viva entered liquidation in June. And plans to incorporate Chile’s Sky Airline have yet to occur.

Still, Abra will fly more than 18% of all airline capacity within Latin America this year, according to Cirium Diio schedules. Latam will fly 24% and Volaris, the third largest airline in the region, nearly 12%.

Airlines

Colombia Blocks Avianca and Viva Air Merger

1 year ago

The Avianca and Viva Air merger has hit a major roadblock with Colombian authorities objecting to the proposed combination. The move could be a blow to Avianca’s plan to create a pan-South American airline group with Brazil’s Gol.

Colombia’s Civil Aeronautics Authority, or Aerocivil, said Tuesday that the merger of the country’s first and third largest airlines could reduce competition and hurt consumers. It could also increase the barriers faced by competitors in the market. In addition, Aerocivil said the financial situation at Viva Air, which the airline’s claimed required expedited approval of the merger, was not so bad as to “affect its viability in the market.”

An Avianca aircraft in Miami. (ERIC SALARD/Flickr)

“We are concerned about the direction of the decision, as it … ignores the potential effect that the disappearance of Viva would have on users and the market,” Avianca CEO Adrian Neuhauser said in a statement on the decision. “At Avianca, we reiterate our willingness to actively participate in rescuing Viva.”

Avianca first announced plans to acquire Viva Air, but not merge with it, in April. However, in August the airlines requested expedited antitrust approval from Aerocivil for a merger that was “vital for the sustainability and development” of Viva Air. In an October interview, Viva Air CEO Felix Antelo said the airlines planned to continue operate as separate brands but would coordinate schedules and fares in order to offer travelers better flight options.

“It will provide for us a financial muscle way stronger and better than what we had before,” he said. “We are going to keep the [low-cost] model around, we’re going to keep the brand around, [and] we’re going to keep the low fares around.”

Antelo also said that “staying independent in aviation in the 2020s is not an option.”

The Avianca-Viva Air merger is the first step in the creation of Abra, a new South American airline holding company created by the merger of Avianca and Gol. The group also has the option to take at least a 42 percent stake in Chile’s Sky Airline.

Aerocivil said it would reconsider the deal if Avianca and Viva resubmit their merger application and offer “remedies” to boost competition.

Updated with comment from Avianca CEO Adrian Neuhauser