Avianca

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Avianca S.A.
Avianca Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AV AVA AVIANCA
Founded5 December 1919; 101 years ago (1919-12-05) as SCADTA
Hubs
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programLifeMiles
AllianceStar Alliance
Subsidiaries
Fleet size84[1]
Destinations114
Parent companyAvianca Holdings S.A.
HeadquartersBogotá, Colombia
Key people
Operating incomeIncrease COP 100.3 B[2] (FY 2019 Q3)
Total assetsIncrease COP 2.403.632 M (FY 2008)
Websitewww.avianca.com

Avianca S.A. (acronym in Spanish for Aerovias del Continente Americano S.A., "Airways of the American Continent") is a Colombian airline. It has been the flag carrier of Colombia[3][4] since 5 December 1919, when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA.[5][6] It is headquartered in Bogotá, D.C. with its main hub at El Dorado International Airport. Avianca is the flagship of a group of eight Latin American airlines, whose operations are combined to function as one airline using a codesharing system. Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia and second largest in Latin America, after LATAM of Chile. Avianca and its subsidiaries have the most extensive network of destinations in Latin America.[7] Prior to the merger with TACA in 2010, it was wholly owned by Synergy Group S.A., a South American holding company established by Germán Efromovich and specialising in air transport. It is listed on the Colombia Stock Exchange.[8]

Through SCADTA, Avianca is the world's second oldest extant airline after KLM, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2019. It is the oldest airline in the Western Hemisphere.[9] It became an official member of Star Alliance on 21 June 2012, after a process that lasted approximately 18 months from the initial announcement[10] of its invitation to join the alliance.[11] On May 10, 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in New York City, NY, United States, and liquidated its subsidiary Avianca Peru, becoming one of the major airlines to have filed for bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.[12][13][14]

History[edit]

SCADTA (1919–1940)[edit]

SCADTA Junkers W 34 "Magdalena", circa 1920s

The airline traces its history back to 5 December 1919, in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Colombians Ernesto Cortissoz Alvarez-Correa (the first President of the Airline), Rafael Palacio, Cristóbal Restrepo, Jacobo Correa and Aristides Noguera and Germans Werner Kämerer, Stuart Hosie and Albert Teitjen founded the Colombo-German Company, called Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transportes Aéreos or SCADTA. The company accomplished their first flight between Barranquilla and the nearby town of Puerto Colombia using a Junkers F.13, transporting 57 pieces of mail. The flight was piloted by German Helmuth von Krohn. This and another aircraft of the same type were completely mechanically constructed monoplanes, the engines of which had to be modified to efficiently operate in the climate of the country. There were nine aircraft in the fleet with a total range of 850 km (528 mi) which could carry up to four passengers and two crewmen. Due to the topographic characteristics of the country and the lack of airports at the time, floats were adapted for two of the Junkers aircraft to make water landings in the rivers near different towns. Using these floats, Helmuth von Krohn was able to perform the first inland flight over Colombia on 20 October 1920, following the course of the Magdalena River; the flight took eight hours and required four emergency landings in the water.

Soon after the airline was founded, German scientist and philanthropist Peter von Bauer became interested in the airline and contributed general knowledge, capital and a tenth aircraft for the company, as well as obtaining concessions from the Colombian government to operate the country's airmail transportation division using the airline, which began in 1922. This new contract allowed SCADTA to thrive in a new frontier of aviation. By the mid-1920s, SCADTA started its first international routes that initially covered destinations in Venezuela and the United States. In 1924, the aircraft that both Ernesto Cortissoz and Helmuth von Krohn were flying crashed into an area currently known as Bocas de Ceniza in Barranquilla, killing them. In the early 1940s, Peter von Bauer sold his shares in the airline to the US-owned Pan American World Airways.

National Airways of Colombia (1940–1994)[edit]

On 14 June 1940, in the city of Barranquilla, SCADTA, under ownership by United States businessmen, merged with regional Colombian airline SACO (acronym of Servicio Aéreo Colombiano), forming the new Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia S.A. or Avianca. Five Colombians participated in this: Rafael María Palacio, Jacobo A. Corea, Cristobal Restrepo, and Aristides Noguera, as well as German citizens Albert Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was filled by Martín del Corral. Avianca claims SCADTA's history as its own.

In 1946, Avianca began flights to Quito, Lima, Panama City, Miami, New York City and Europe, using Douglas DC-4s and C-54 Skymasters. In 1951, Avianca acquired Lockheed 749 Constellations and 1049 Super Constellations. In 1961, Avianca leased two Boeing 707 aircraft, to operate its international routes and on 2 November 1961, it acquired its own Boeing 720s. In 1976, Avianca became the first Latin American airline to continuously operate[clarification needed] a Boeing 747. Three years later, it started operations with another 747, this time a 747 Combi, mixing cargo and passenger operations.

Merger and alliance (1994–2002)[edit]

In 1994, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and the helicopter operator Helicol merged, beginning Avianca's new system of operations. This arrangement allowed for specialized services in cargo (Avianca Cargo) and postal services, as well as a more modern fleet, made up of Boeing 767-200s, Boeing 767-300s, Boeing 757-200s, McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, Fokker 50s, and Bell helicopters.

In 1996, Avianca Postal Services became Deprisa, which provided various mail services.

In 1998, Avianca announced the inception of a new "connections center" in Bogotá, offering around 6,000 possible weekly connecting flights and an increased number of frequencies, schedules and destinations, taking advantage of the privileged geographical location of the country's capital, for the benefit of Colombian and international travellers between South America, Europe and North America.

Summa Alliance (2002–2004)[edit]

After the September 11 attacks, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM Colombia, and its major rival ACES Colombia joined efforts to create Alianza Summa, which began merged operations on May 20, 2002. In November 2003, Alianza Summa was disbanded and ACES Colombia was liquidated altogether and SAM Colombia was acquired to be a regional carrier under Avianca's brand.

American Continent Airways (2004–2009)[edit]

On December 10, 2004, Avianca concluded a major reorganization process, undertaken after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, by obtaining confirmation of its reorganization plan, which was financially backed by the Brazilian consortium, OceanAir/Synergy Group and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, allowing the airline to obtain funds for US$63 million, in the 13 months following withdrawal from bankruptcy.

Under this plan, Avianca was bought by Synergy Group, and was consolidated with its subsidiaries OceanAir and VIP Ecuador. The company's full legal name was changed from Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia (National Airways of Colombia) to Aerovías del Continente Americano (Airways of the American Continent), retaining the acronym Avianca. In 2009, OceanAir and VIP were re-branded as Avianca Brasil and Avianca Ecuador, respectively.

Avianca-TACA merger (2009–2013)[edit]

In 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA.[15][16] This created AviancaTaca Holdings, which instantly became one of the region's largest airlines, with 129 aircraft and flights to more than 100 destinations.

In November 2009, the airline's Chief Executive Fabio Villegas announced that the airline was looking to replace its Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft with newer aircraft of 100 seats or less.[17] On 1 January 2011, the airline decided to retire the Fokker 100 aircraft in 2011 and replace them with 10 Airbus A318 leased from GECAS. The aircraft were delivered from February to April 2011.

Star Alliance[edit]

On 10 November 2010, Star Alliance announced that Avianca (and its merger counterpart, TACA) were full members in 2012. Due to Avianca's entry into Star Alliance, it ended its codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines and began a new codeshare agreement with United Airlines. TACA had been codesharing with United Airlines since 2006.[18] On 21 June 2012, Avianca and TACA were both officially admitted into Star Alliance.

Avianca Holdings S.A. (2013–present)[edit]

TACA and all other AviancaTaca airlines changed their brand to Avianca on 28 May 2013. On 21 March 2013, at the annual general meeting, the shareholders approved the change of corporate name from AviancaTaca Holdings S.A. to Avianca Holdings S.A.[19]

As of 2017, Avianca operates the second-most daily international flights from Miami with 16, second only to American Airlines.

In August 2018, Avianca had some operational difficulties due to problems with the platform it used to assign crew schedules. This resulted in the cancellation of several flights within Colombia. Likewise, due to the stoppage of ACDAC pilots in 2017, only in October 2018 were all flight itineraries managed by the airline restored.

In March 2019, Avianca launched Regional Express Américas in Colombia. This new airline operates with ATR-72 aircraft for short regional flights.

2020 bankruptcy[edit]

Avianca had significant financial liabilities in 2019. Due to this they issued more debt to cover short term liabilities, and concluded a debt exchange December 31, 2019. This lack of liquidity, and amount of debt left them particularly vulnerable to the cessation of business which occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] Colombia has implemented a strict lockdown such that the airline was not allowed to operate; and so it flew no scheduled flights between late March and May; and most of its 20,000 employees have gone without pay throughout the crisis.[21] On 10 May 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in its history as a result of the pandemic; the airline had accumulated a total debt of $7.3 billion at the end of 2019.[21]

Avianca Holdings, S.A. and 23 affiliated debtors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 10, 2020. The debtors have requested joint administration of the cases under Case No. 20-11133.[22]

Headquarters[edit]

Avianca headquarters, designed by Esguerra Saenz Urdaneta Samper

Avianca's headquarters are on Avenida El Dorado and between Avenida la Esmeralda and Gobernación de Cundinamarca, located in the Ciudad Salitre area of Bogotá. The building is located next to the Gran Estación.[23] Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.[24]

Destinations[edit]

Avianca's hubs are in Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport and in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport. Its focus cities are Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, San José and Quito as well as Miami, where Avianca is the largest foreign carrier by number of passengers. The airline covers 187 destinations in 27 countries.

Subsidiaries[edit]

Avianca's subsidiaries' destinations
Company Number of destinations List
Avianca 114 List of Avianca destinations
Avianca Cargo 20 List of Avianca Cargo destinations
Avianca Costa Rica 12 List of Avianca Costa Rica destinations
Avianca Ecuador 14 List of Avianca Ecuador destinations
Avianca El Salvador 25 List of Avianca El Salvador destinations
Avianca Guatemala 8 List of Avianca Guatemala destinations
Avianca Honduras 4 List of Avianca Honduras destinations
Helicol unk

Frequent flyer program[edit]

Avianca launched their LifeMiles frequent-flyer program in 2011, replacing AviancaPlus. The levels include Silver, Gold and Diamond, replacing the former Basic, Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Executive levels. This program covers all Avianca Holdings airlines.

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Avianca has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[25]

LifeMiles[edit]

The frequent flyer program of Avianca and its subsidiaries is LifeMiles. This program is to reward customer loyalty. The membership is free and you can register online. LifeMiles members earn miles every time they fly with Star Alliance members, Avianca subsidiaries or use service in some hotels, retails, car rental and credit card partners.

LifeMiles has three Elite Tiers:

  • Silver (Star Alliance Silver)
  • Gold (Star Alliance Gold)
  • Diamond (Star Alliance Gold)

Fleet[edit]

Current fleet[edit]

Avianca Boeing 787-8

As of December 2020, the Avianca fleet consists of the following aircraft:[30][31]

Avianca fleet
Aircraft In
service
Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 14 12 108 120
Airbus A320-200 37 12 138 150
Airbus A320neo 6 90[32] 12 141 153
Airbus A321-200 7 12 182 194
Airbus A321neo 2 15 12 183 195
Airbus A330-200 7 30 222 252
Boeing 787-8[33] 13 28 222 250
Boeing 787-9 1[34] 2 28 281 309
Avianca Cargo fleet
Airbus A330-200F 6 Cargo
Total 93 107

Avianca's first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was delivered on 17 December 2014 and launched its first service on 16 January 2015 between Bogotá and New York.[35]

Former fleet[edit]

Over the years, Avianca had in the past operated a variety of aircraft, including:[36][37][38]

Avianca former fleet
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A318-100 10 2011 2019 Purchased from Mexicana[39]
Airbus A330-300 2 2018 2020 Purchased from TransAsia
ATR 72-600 9 2013 2019 Transferred to Avianca Express
Boeing 247D 18 1936 1948
Boeing 707-320 9 1968 1994 One written off as Flight 52
Boeing 720B 7 1961 1984
Boeing 727-100 33 1966 1992
Boeing 727-200 18 1978 1999
Boeing 737-100 2 1968 1971 First operator in Latin America
Boeing 747-100 3 1976 1996
Boeing 747-100SF 2 1981 1988
Boeing 747-200M 2 1981 1995 One written off as Flight 011
Boeing 757-200 22 1992 2010
Boeing 767-200ER 5 1992 2011
Boeing 767-300ER 5 1994 2011
Consolidated PBY Catalina 4 1946 1956
Curtiss C-46 Commando 5 1950 1955
de Havilland DH.60 Moth 7 1929 1939
Dornier Do J 3 1925 1932
Dornier Merkur 2 1927 1932
Douglas C-47 Skytrain 52 1939 1974
Douglas C-54 Skymaster 26 1946 1975
Douglas DC-2 2 1944 1947
Douglas DC-3 4 1939 1973
Douglas DC-4 2 1953 1974
Fokker 50 10 1993 2014
Fokker 100 15 2005 2011 Operated by SAM until 2010
Fokker Universal 2 1929 1934
Ford 5-AT-DS Trimotor 19 1929 1946
General Aviation GA-43 1 1934 Un­known
Hawker Siddeley HS 748 2 1968 1978
Junkers F 13 31 1920 1940
Junkers W 33 1 1929 1932
Junkers W 34 13 1928 1947
Lockheed L-749 Constellation 6 1951 1967
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation 4 1954 1969
McDonnell Douglas MD-11ER 1 1998 1999 Leased from World Airways
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 19 1992 2012
Sikorsky S-38 7 1929 1940
Sikorsky S-41 1 1930 1936

Cancelled orders[edit]

In January 21, 2008, the Synergy Group ordered 10 Airbus A350-800, as well as 10 options for Avianca. The aircraft were to be delivered in 2015. In 2011, the orders were switched from the -800 variant to the -900 variant, and later the aircraft were to be intended for its subsituary Avianca Brasil. Since 2014, the orders have not been delivered yet. In July 2019, Avianca Brasil declared bankruptcy and ceased operations, and the orders have not been yet confirmed.

Accidents and Incidents[edit]

The airline suffered a few incidents during the 1980s and early 1990s. The deadliest of those incidents was Avianca Flight 011, which crashed in 1983.

  • On 22 January 1947, a Douglas C-53B (registered C-108), crashed in the Magdalena river valley, killing all 17 people on board.[40]
  • On 9 August 1954, a Lockheed L-749A (registered HK-163), crashed three minutes after takeoff from Lajes Field, Azores, after it flew left into the hills instead of right towards the sea. All 30 on board died.[41]
  • On 9 March 1955, a Douglas C-47A (registered HK-328), crashed at Trujillo, Colombia, killing all eight on board. The wreckage was found a month later, but some of the gold and cargo was missing.[42]
  • On 23 June 1959, a Douglas DC-4 (registered HK-135), and operating Flight 667, struck Cerro Baco mountain while en route to Lima, Peru, killing all 14 aboard.[43]
  • On 22 March 1965, a Douglas C-47DL, (registered HK-109), operating Flight 676, struck Pan de Azucar at an elevation of 7,200 feet (2,200 m), killing all 29 on board. The cause was the decision of the pilot to fly VFR in conditions that required IFR.[45]
  • On 22 September 1966, a Douglas DC-4 (registered HK-174), and operating Flight 870, crashed while attempting to return to Eldorado Airport due to engine problems, killing both pilots. The cause was traced to a failure in the governor control unit. Improper supervision by the company was a contributing factor, as the pilot was briefed to make a night flight while he was in conversion training for the L-749.[46]
  • On 24 December 1966, a Douglas C-47A, (registered HK-161), operating Flight 729, struck Cerro Las Animas at an elevation of 11,600 feet (3,500 m) while approaching Pasto, killing all 29 on board. A combination of poor CRM, pilot intoxication, deviation from route, and pilot error was cited as the cause.[47]
  • On 27 November 1989, a bomb destroyed Avianca Flight 203. All 110 passengers and crew were killed. The bombing had been ordered by Pablo Escobar to kill presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo. In the aftermath, it was discovered that Gaviria had not boarded the aircraft.
  • On 12 April 1999, a Fokker 50 operating Flight 9463 from Bogotá to Bucaramanga was hijacked by six ELN members, who forced the plane to make an emergency landing on a clandestine runway in the Bolivar region. One passenger died during captivity, the rest were eventually liberated a year after the hijacking.[55]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ http://aviancaholdings.com/English/investor-relations/financial-information/default.aspx
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  4. ^ Álvaro Uribe Vélez (7 March 2005). "Discurso de entrega de la Orden del Mérito Comercial en la Categoría de Gran Oficial a Avianca" [Presidential address on the Order of Commercial Merit in the Category of Great Officer to Avianca] (.htm) (in Spanish). Bogotá, D.C. (Colombia): Presidencia de la República de Colombia. Nosotros no podemos perder la oportunidad de tener en Bogotá ese gran centro de conexiones. Y por supuesto, que lo haga la compañía bandera de Colombia, que es Avianca. Eso lo tiene que explicar el Gobierno a la opinión pública clara y paladinamente, sin malicias, sin cartas escondidas, y salir a defenderlo y decir por qué hay que hacerlo.
  5. ^ Simón Rodríguez Rodríguez (21 September 1989). "Sentencia del Honorable Consejo de Estado de la República de Colombia con relación al proceso número 132 que reposa en el expediente del año 1989 (ce-sec1-exp1989-n132)" [Sentence of the Honourable Council of State of the Republic of Colombia in relation to the process number 132 which rests on the record of 1989 (ce-sec1-exp1989-n132)] (in Spanish). Bogotá, D.C. (Colombia): Consejo de Estado de la República de Colombia. pp. 10, 16, 5th paragraph. Archived from the original (.doc) on 2011-07-04. Desde ningún punto de vista puede abrigarse duda alguna acerca del carácter eminentemente privado de la empresa Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia AVIANCA S. A. La prueba por excelencia en este caso, como es el certificado expedido por el Secretario de la Cámara de Comercio de Barranquilla así lo determina (fls. 2 a 10). En él se lee que la empresa se constituyó por escritura pública número 2374, otorgada ante Notaría Segunda de Barranquilla, el día 5 de diciembre de 1919, registrada en el Juzgado Tercero del mismo Circuito, llamada inicialmente Sociedad Colombo – Alemana de Transportes Aéreos -SCADTA-.
  6. ^ Friedman, Max Paul (April 2000). "Specter of a Nazi Threat: United States-Colombian Relations, 1939–1945". The Americas. 4. Washington, D.C. (United States): Catholic University of America Press on behalf of Academy of American Franciscan History. 56 (4): 563–589 [566 2nd paragraph]. doi:10.1017/S0003161500029849. JSTOR 1008173.
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External links[edit]

Media related to Avianca at Wikimedia Commons