Skift Travel News Blog

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


Colombia’s Bankrupt Viva Air Shuts Down

1 year ago

Struggling Colombian budget airline Viva Air stopped flying late Monday, less than a month after it filed for the local equivalent of bankruptcy.

The Medellin-based carrier, and Colombia’s third largest, cited the delay by the country’s civil aviation regulator, Aerocivil, in approval of its proposed merger with Avianca for its closure. Aerocivil has been considering the airline’s merger, which former Viva CEO Felix Antelo said last year was critical to the airline’s future, for nearly seven months.

“Unfortunately, we are at this point due to the repeated delays of the [Aerocivil] and their inability to recognize that what is best for Viva is also the best for all Colombians,” Viva said in a statement. “We remain hopeful that [Aerocivil] will take immediate action to ensure that Viva continues to paint the skies yellow.”

Aerocivil first rejected Avianca and Viva’s merger request in November due to competition concerns. The regulator reopened the review in January after Avianca and Viva offered concessions to preserve competition. However, after JetSmart and Latam Airlines expressed interest in acquiring Viva, Aerocivil postponed a decision on the merger earlier in February.

Viva said that it will continue talks with creditors with the hopes it can restart operations in the future.


Mexican Airline Aeromar Stops Flying

1 year ago

Mexican regional airline Aeromar closed its doors on Wednesday after it failed to reach a deal with creditors or secure new capital.

The airline was a small player in Mexico’s aviation market, flying less than 1 percent of the country’s domestic seats in February, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. However, flying smaller ATR turboprops, it lacked competition on many of its routes. For example, from Mexico City Aeromar was the only airline serving Colima, Ciudad Victoria, Ixtepec, McAllen, Piedras Negras, and Tepic, Diio data show.

An Aeromar aircraft takes off
An Aeromar ATR 42. (Pete Webber/Flickr)

Aeromexico, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris — the three airlines that dominate Mexico’s domestic market — have all offered to assist travelers stranded by Aeromar’s collapse.

Aeromar said in a statement that it planned to liquidate its assets, which include 10 aircraft.

The airline’s collapse is the latest in a volatile recovery for airlines in Latin America. Three of the region’s largest — Aeromexico, Avianca, and Latam Airlines — all restructured under U.S. Chapter 11 protection during the pandemic. Mexico’s fourth largest airline, InterJet, collapsed in December 2020. And Colombia’s Viva Air filed for the local equivalent of bankruptcy earlier in February; the airline may also be the subject of a bidding war between Avianca, Latam, and Chile’s JetSmart.

Tour Operators

Former Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser Returns to Travel

2 years ago

Peter Fankauser is marking his official return to travel after a three-year absence, as he takes on the role of chairman at Germany’s itravel Group.

He has also previously been an investor and consultant at the Cologne-based tour operator.

Fankauser was CEO of Thomas Cook Group from 2014 up until its collapse in September 2019. The travel giant’s bankruptcy left 600,000 tourists stranded, 21,000 employees without jobs and a financial black hole $12 billion.

Fankhauser was grilled by UK politicians afterwards, alongside other execs, as the government tried to figure out what went wrong. At the time much was made of the millions former leaders made, through salaries and bonuses, despite the company collapsing.

According to reports, Fankhauser received almost $10 million in salary and bonuses between 2014 and 2018.

Another former CEO, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, last year became president of a new joint venture formed by the merger of Logitravel and Spanish agency group Viajes El Corte Ingles.


Scandinavia’s SAS Files for Bankruptcy Protection in the U.S.

2 years ago

Scandinavian airline SAS has voluntarily filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S., to try and secure time and flexibility to reorganize its capital structure, reduce costs, and complete a financial restructuring under the supervision of the U.S. court system.

SAS expects to complete its court-supervised process in the U.S. in 9-12 months.

The airline wants to reach agreements with key stakeholders, restructure the company’s debt obligations, reconfigure its aircraft fleet, and emerge with a significant capital injection, while continuing to run the airline.

It said operations and flight schedules would remain unaffected by the chapter 11 filing. “SAS will continue to serve its customers as normal, although the strike by SAS Scandinavia pilots’ unions will impact the flight schedule,” the airline said.

On Monday, SAS pilots decided to go on strike affecting 50 percent of flights and 30,000 passengers per day.

The debt-ridden airline has been struggling to improve its cost structure and financial position for the past few months.

While progress has been made, the ongoing strike has made an already challenging situation even tougher, said Anko van der Werff, president and CEO.

“The chapter 11 process gives us legal tools to accelerate our transformation, while being able to continue to operate business as usual. We will continue to build back the network connectivity, products and service our customers expect, and we will continue to do so throughout this process and beyond,” he said.


South America’s Largest Airline Latam Cleared to Exit Bankruptcy

2 years ago

South America’s largest airline, Latam Airlines Group, can exit its U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring after a judge approved its reorganization plan Saturday.

The Chile-based carrier will exit its restructuring leaner than when it went in after shedding its Argentine subsidiary, but with $8 billion in new capital including $5.4 billion in new financing from shareholders Delta Air Lines, Qatar Airways, and the Cueto family, as well as its major creditors. Delta, Qatar Airways, and the Cuetos will also maintain equity stakes in Latam.

latam airlines a320
(Alexandro Dias/Flickr)

“This is a very important step in the process to emerge from Chapter 11, and we will continue working hard to complete the remaining steps in the coming months,” Latam CEO Roberto Alvo said in a statement on June 19.

Latam is the last of the big three Latin American airline bankruptcies to come to a close following Avianca’s exit in December, and Aeromexico in March. Latam plans to exit Chapter 11 in the second half of the year.