Skift Travel News Blog

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

Airlines

Colombia to Take New Look at Avianca-Viva Air Merger

6 days ago

Colombia’s civil aviation authority, Aerocivil, is taking a new look at the proposed merger of Avianca and Viva Air following what it described as a “substantial irregularity” in its initial review. That process, which concluded in November, rejected the airlines’ combination due to competition concerns.

Aerocivil notified the airlines Thursday that it would “proceed quickly” to review the proposed deal again. The regulator did not say whether the process would take into account the concessions, including a commitment to keep the Viva brand and giving up slots at Bogotá’s congested El Dorado airport, that Avianca and Viva offered in November.

A Viva Air Airbus A320neo
(Viva Air)

“Staying independent in aviation in the 2020s is not an option,” Viva CEO Felix Antelo said on the importance of the merger in an October interview. “It was hard pre-pandemic. It’s not an option now.”

Avianca and Viva would together operate a 61 percent share of seats in the Colombian market based on 2022 numbers, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. The next largest carrier, Latam Airlines, had a 24 percent share of seats.

The proposed merger is a precursor to a much bigger deal: the combination of Avianca and Brazil’s Gol under the new Abra Group banner. The two airlines plan to maintain separate operations but say the deal would allow them to realize other operational and backoffice synergies, for example placing joint aircraft orders. Abra would be akin to an Air France-KLM or International Airlines Group of South America, and challenge to regional market leader Latam.

Airlines

Colombia’s Viva Air Officially Seeks Merger With Abra

6 months ago

Colombian budget airline Viva Air has officially applied to regulators to become part of Abra, the new airline group being formed by the merger of Avianca and Gol.

Under plans unveiled in May, Viva would become one of four airlines in Abra if its joint application with Avianca to Colombia’s civil aviation regulator, Aerocivil, Monday is approved. Avianca and Viva announced plans to combine but continue to operate separately shortly before the Abra deal.

(Viva Air)

Abra aims to become a multinational South American airline group akin to International Airlines Group or the Lufthansa Group in Europe. The four-way merger would create a regional competitor Latam Airlines Group, which is the largest in South America. Recently restructured Avianca and Gol in Brazil will be the anchor airlines of Abra and joined by Viva, as well as a minority stake in Chilean discounter Sky Airline. Together, the carriers would have significant shares in the Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Peru markets.

“The rapid approval of this integration and therefore the incorporation of Viva into Grupo Abra is vital for the sustainability and development of our company in the future,” Grupo Viva CEO Félix Antelo said in a statement translated with Google Translate.

Antelo did not mention a timeline but asked Aerocivil for a “prompt” decision. The application comes a day after Colombia’s new leftist president, Gustavo Petro, was sworn in to office.

Airlines

South America’s Largest Airline Latam Cleared to Exit Bankruptcy

7 months 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.

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