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Avianca S.A.
Avianca Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded5 December 1919; 100 years ago (1919-12-05) as SCADTA
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programLifeMiles
AllianceStar Alliance
Fleet size103[1]
Parent companyAvianca Holdings S.A.
HeadquartersBogotá, Colombia
Key peopleAnko Van Der Werff (CEO & Chairman)
Operating incomeIncrease COP 2.8 B[2] (FY 2009)
Total assetsIncrease COP 2.403.632 M (FY 2008)

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] It is 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 5, 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]


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 Wilhem Schnurbusch, Werner Kämerer, Stuart Hosie and Albert Tietjen 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]

Avianca Boeing 747 at Miami International Airport in 1993.

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]

Avianca Boeing 767 in 2004.

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.

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

Summa Alliance (2002–04)[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 20 May 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 (2004–09)[edit]

On 10 December 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 Brazil and Avianca Ecuador, respectively.

Avianca-TACA merger (2009–13)[edit]

In 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA.[12][13] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

On November 21, 2017, Avianca Argentina began operation. As of 2017 Avianca operates the second-most 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 is operated with ATR-72 aircraft for short regional flights.

In mid-March 2019 Azul Linhas Aéreas proposed to buy Avianca Brasil.[17] Avianca owes R$ 5.5 million to Fraport of Porto Alegre and R$9 million to Fraport of Fortaleza.[18] 180 flights cancelled.[19] On April 12, 2019, 180 flights were cancelled and only 35 aircraft remained.[20][21] On April 16, 2019, more flights were cancelled for a total of 254.[22] On April 17, 2019 314 flights were cancelled and 14 aircraft remained in the fleet.[23] On April 18, 2019 Azul cancelled its offer to buy Avianca.[24] On April 23, only seven aircraft remained in the fleet.[25]


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.[26] Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.[27]


Avianca's hubs are in Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport, in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport and in Lima at Jorge Chávez 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.


Avianca's subsidiaries destinations
Company Number of destinations List
Avianca 156 List of Avianca destinations
Avianca Cargo 20 List of Avianca Cargo destinations
Avianca Costa Rica 12 List of Avianca Costa Rica destinations
Avianca Ecuador 15 List of Avianca Ecuador destinations
Avianca El Salvador 37 List of Avianca El Salvador destinations
Avianca Guatemala 11 List of Avianca Guatemala destinations
Avianca Honduras 4 List of Avianca Honduras destinations
Avianca Peru 32 List of Avianca Perú 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:[28]


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)


Current Fleet[edit]

Avianca Boeing 787-8

As of December 2019, the Avianca Holding S.A. fleet consists of the following aircraft:[33]

Avianca Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 14 12 108 120
Airbus A320-200 36 12 138 150
Airbus A320neo 5 92[34] 12 141 153
Airbus A321-200 8 12 182 194
Airbus A321neo 2 15 12 183 195
Airbus A330-200 6 30 222 252
Airbus A330-300 2 32 268 300
ATR 72-600 11 68 68
Boeing 787-8[35] 13 28 222 250
Boeing 787-9 8 TBA
Avianca Cargo Fleet
Airbus A330-200F 5 Cargo
Total 103 115

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.[36]

Retired Fleet[edit]

Avianca former fleet[37][38]
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A318-100 2011 2019[39]
Boeing 247D 1937 1947
Boeing 707-300 1969 1993 One was written off as Avianca Flight 52
Boeing 720 1961 1984
Boeing 727-100 1966 1992
Boeing 727-200 1978 1998
Boeing 737-100 1968 1971
Boeing 747-100 1976 1996
Boeing 747-100SF 1981 1988
Boeing 747-200M 1981 1995 One was written off as Avianca Flight 011
Boeing 757-200 1992 2010
Boeing 767-200ER 1992 2011
Boeing 767-300ER 1994 2010
Consolidated PBY Catalina 1946 Unknown
Curtiss C-46 Commando 1950 Unknown
de Havilland Giant Moth Unknown Unknown
de Havilland Tiger Moth Unknown Unknown
Douglas C-54 Skymaster 1948 1975
Douglas DC-2 1944 Unknown
Douglas DC-3 1939 1975
Douglas DC-4 1945 1970
Dornier Do J 1932 Unknown
Dornier Komet Unknown Unknown
Dornier Merkur 1927 Unknown
Embraer 190 2015 2019
Fokker 50 1993 2014 Replaced by ATR 72-600
Fokker 100 2005 2011 Replaced by Airbus A318.
Fokker Super Universal 1931 1934
Ford 5-AT-DS Trimotor 1932 1946
Hawker Siddeley HS 748 1968 1978
Junkers F.13 1920 1939
Junkers W 33 1928 1932
Junkers W 34 1929 1947
Lockheed L-749 Constellation 1956 1968
Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation 1958 1968
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar Unknown Unknown
McDonnell Douglas MD-11ER 1999 1999 Leased from World Airways
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 1992 2011
Sikorsky S-38 1929 Unknown

Cancelled orders[edit]

From 2009 to 2010, Avianca ordered 10 Airbus A350-900 that were to be delivered from 2015 to 2017. As of 2019, the orders haven't arrived. The aircraft were intended for Avianca Brazil, but since that airline has declared bankruptcy and ceased operations, the fate of those orders is uncertain.

Incidents and accidents[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.


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External links[edit]

Media related to Avianca at Wikimedia Commons