|Founded||5 December 1919SCADTAas|
|Parent company||Avianca Holdings S.A.|
|Operating income||COP 100.3 B (FY 2019 Q3)|
|Total assets||COP 2.403.632 M (FY 2008)|
Avianca S.A. (formerly Avianca Colombia) (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 since 5 December 1919, when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA. 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. 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.
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. It became an official member of Star Alliance on 21 June 2012, after a process that lasted approximately 18 months from the initial announcement of its invitation to join the alliance. On May 10, 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in New York City, and liquidated its subsidiary Avianca Peru, becoming one of the major airlines to have filed for bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The airline traces its history back to December 5, 1919, in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Colombians Ernesto Cortissoz Alvarez-Correa (the first President of the Airline), Rafael María Palacio, Cristóbal Restrepo, Jacobo Correa and Aristides Noguera and Germans Werner Kämmerer, 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.
On June 14, 1940, in the city of Barranquilla, SCADTA, under ownership by United States businessmen, merged with regional Colombian airline SACO, 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 1956 the company transported the Colombian delegation to the Melbourne Olympics on a 61-hour trip, stopping only to refuel. During the 1960s, the company built the Avianca Building in Bogotá, designed by the architect Germán Samper, which was inaugurated in 1969 on the south side of Santander Park. In 1961, Avianca leased two Boeing 707s to operate its international routes and on November 2, 1961, it acquired its own Boeing 720s. In 1976, Avianca became the first Latin American airline to the Boeing 747. Three years later, it started operations with more 747s, including two 747 Combi, mixing cargo and passenger operations.
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 767-200/300s, Boeing 757-200s, 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 hub 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 travelers between South America, Europe and North America.
After the September 11 attacks, Avianca, SAM, and its major rival ACES joined efforts to create the Alianza Summa, which began merged operations on May 20, 2002. In November 2003, the Alianza Summa was disbanded and ACES was liquidated altogether and SAM Colombia was acquired to be a regional carrier under Avianca's brand.
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.
In 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA. 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. On January 1, 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.
On November 10, 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. On 21 June 2012, Avianca and TACA were both officially admitted into Star Alliance.
TACA and all other AviancaTaca airlines changed their brand to Avianca on May 28, 2013. On March 21, 2013, at the annual general meeting, the shareholders approved the change of corporate name from AviancaTaca Holdings S.A. to Avianca Holdings S.A.
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.
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. 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 had gone without pay throughout the crisis. 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.
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.
In June 2021, Avianca says its cost reduction plan will take between a year and a year and a half to implement. It consists of reducing the size of the fleet by 15%, but increasing the seating capacity by the same amount.
Avianca's headquarters are on Avenida El Dorado and between Carrera 60 and Gobernación de Cundinamarca, located in the Ciudad Salitre area of Bogotá. The building is located next to the Gran Estación. Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.
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.
|Company||Number of destinations||List|
|Avianca||63||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|
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.
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:
|Airbus A320-200||39||36||12||138||150||Orders are being transferred from Avianca Brasil, Aeroflot, Cebu Pacific, Citilink, Gulf Air and Viva Air Colombia.|
|Airbus A321-200||3||—||12||182||194||To be phased out|
|Avianca Cargo fleet|
Avianca's first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was delivered on December 17, 2014 and launched its first service on January 16, 2015 between Bogotá and New York.
|Airbus A318-100||10||2011||2019||Purchased from Mexicana|
|Airbus A330-300||2||2018||2020||Purchased from TransAsia|
|ATR 72-600||9||2013||2019||Transferred to Avianca Express|
|Boeing 707-120||1||1960||1961||Leased from Pan Am|
|Boeing 707-320C||8||1968||1994||One written off as Flight 52|
|Boeing 737-100||2||1968||1971||First operator in Latin America|
|Boeing 747-200M||2||1981||1995||One written off as Flight 011|
|Consolidated PBY Catalina||4||1946||1956|
|Curtiss T-32 Condor II||2||Unknown||Unknown|
|Curtiss C-46 Commando||5||1949||1955|
|de Havilland DH.60 Moth||7||1929||1939|
|Dornier Do J Wal||3||1925||1932|
|Douglas C-47 Skytrain||52||1939||1974|
|Douglas C-54 Skymaster||26||1946||1975|
|Fokker 100||15||2006||2011||Operated by SAM until 2010|
|Ford 5-AT-DS Trimotor||19||1929||1946|
|General Aviation GA-43||1||1934||Unknown|
|Hawker Siddeley HS 748||2||1968||1978|
|IAI 1124 Westwind||1||1978||1995|
|Junkers F 13||31||1920||1940|
|Junkers W 33||1||1929||1932|
|Junkers W 34||13||1928||1947|
|Lockheed L-749A Constellation||6||1951||1967|
|Lockheed L-1049E Super Constellation||4||1954||1969|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11ER||1||1998||1999||Leased from World Airways|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||19||1992||2012|
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.
In its recent history, the company has won different awards:
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.
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-.
SCADTA Junkers F 13, one of the first commercial airlines in Colombia. SCADTA (now known as AVIANCA) is the oldest, continuously operating airline in the Western Hemisphere.
Media related to Avianca at Wikimedia Commons