Avianca Looks To Resume Operations With 14 Domestic Routes

After five months of commercial inactivity, Avianca will start flying on 1 September in Colombia, said the airline. It will begin with 14 domestic routes and a fleet of 20 planes. What else do we know about Avianca’s restart of operation? Let’s find out.

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Avianca will restart its domestic flights in Colombia on 1 September. Photo: Getty Images

Avianca deeply needs to operate again

The Colombian carrier is in a Chapter 11 filing in the US. It was the first of the three Latin American airlines to start a financial reorganization. Then LATAM and Grupo Aeromexico followed.

Since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Latin America, Avianca has been grounded in its two major hubs, Colombia and El Salvador. The inactivity has profoundly hit the centennial airline.

Meanwhile, the Colombian Government pushed back the reopening date of its airspace since May. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Latin America increased, Colombia kept delaying the date. But now, the Colombian authorities are at a point where they can no longer ignore the air industry’s needs. Three of the country’s six airlines are in financial reorganization: Avianca, LATAM, and EasyFly. The others are SATENA (a state airline), the low-cost carrier Viva Air and the Copa Airline branch Wingo.

In the first half of 2020, Avianca posted a US$352 million. It also reduced its fleet and presented a furlough program that would keep some workers without a payroll for a year.

How will it operate?

Avianca will relaunch its operations with 20 planes flying 14 domestic routes. On 1 September, it will fly from Bogotá to nine cities: Barranquilla, Bucamaranga, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Medellín, Montería, Pereira, and San Andrés.

Then, on 7 September, it will add three more routes from Bogotá to Pasto, Santa Marta, and Villavicencio. It will also fly from Medellín to Calí and Cartagena.

The Colombian airline will operate at a 12% capacity of what it had before the pandemic. It will use its fleet of Airbus A320 for the main routes such as Bogotá-Cali, and it will use its ATR72 fleet for the regional flights.

Avianca’s CEO, Anko van der Werff, said,

“Our commitment is to connect Colombia. The restart of operations is a step forward in the economic reactivation of the country. We hope to help the tourism chain value.”

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Avianca still doesn’t know when it will be able to fly internationally from Colombia. Photo: Getty Images

What about international operations?

Avianca has not said anything about international operations. The carrier is delaying the restart of its international flights because the Colombian Government has not been very clear about that subject.

This week, the Health Ministry of Colombia approved the arrival of international travelers to the country. Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply the Government has allowed international commercial flights.

The Government is working on several steps to reestablish the first international routes. According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, the five countries that Colombian airlines will connect first are the US, Panama, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru. The restart of those flights will be gradual and won’t be from 1 September.

For example, Peru is currently closed for international travelers. The South American country only allows domestic operations, so Colombian carriers have to wait until Peruvian authorities open the airspace. That could happen by December, according to El Tiempo. Panama is also closed, and Chile has severe restrictions on international traffic. The US is likely the first country where Colombian airlines may be allowed to fly, even when it has the largest number of COVID-19 cases globally.

Are you expecting to travel with Avianca any time soon? Let us know in the comments.