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.