Travel Restrictions Force Avianca To Suspend Several International Routes

Avianca temporarily suspended 25 international routes since March 1 due to the new COVID-19 travel restrictions in many countries. The South American carrier closed 12 international routes from Bogotá, four from San Salvador, four from Quito, three from Guatemala, and one from Cali and Medellín. Let’s investigate further.

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Avianca is suspending 25 international routes. Photo: Getty Images

What is Avianca suspending?

In a statement, Avianca said,

“Due to the new travel restrictions in some countries and the uncertainty from our travelers in the current COVID-19 environment, we have adjusted our schedules.”

Starting on March 1, Avianca suspended 25 international routes. These are as follows.

From Bogota, Colombia:

  1. Barcelona
  2. London
  3. Curazao
  4. San Juan (Puerto Rico)
  5. La Paz (Bolivia)
  6. Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia)
  7. Rio de Janeiro
  8. Asuncion (Paraguay)
  9. Montevideo (Uruguay)
  10. Fort Lauderdale
  11. Orlando
  12. Panama

From San Salvador, El Salvador:

  1. Newark
  2. Dallas
  3. Toronto
  4. San José (Costa Rica)
  5. Houston
  6. Mexico City

From Quito, Ecuador

  1. San Pedro Sula (Honduras)
  2. Miami

From Guatemala:

  1. Tegucigalpa
  2. Bogota
  3. Los Angeles

From Cali and Medellin, Colombia:

  1. Madrid
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Avianca mainly suspended international routes from Bogota, Colombia. Photo: Getty Images

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What does this mean for Avianca’s future?

The South American carrier said that it will look carefully at each market to see when it will restart these routes. For instance, it expects that some routes may be reopened before the first quarter ends but will not operate others until April and June.

In January 2021, Avianca transported 767 thousand passengers on all its routes. This number was an increase from the 761 thousand it had in December 2020. Nevertheless, the international market suffered a decrease, going from 209 thousand million at the end of last year to 191 thousand.

The new travel restrictions worldwide came at a time when Avianca was taking off after months of inactivity.

Avianca was fully grounded between April and August, restarting operations in September, when it transported 165 thousand passengers.

On January 27, Avianca said that it was operating 94 routes, increasing by 77% in the last three months. It had 34 international routes from Colombia, offering up to 28,000 seats across Latin America, North America, and Europe.

Nevertheless, the new COVID-19 variants have put a halt to the recovery. The US, for instance, has required international travelers to present a negative PCR result test before boarding up their flights. These restrictions hampered demand.

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Avianca will face a challenging year in Colombia. Photo: Getty Images.

Avianca’s latest developments and challenges

Avianca is one of the three South American carriers that filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US in 2020. The airline is currently under this process and advancing at a good pace.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic deeply affected Avianca’s plans. In 2020, the airline transported 7.9 million passengers. The year prior, it transported 30.53 million passengers, so that’s a 74% decrease on a year-to-year basis!

This year will be an exciting one in the Colombian aviation market. Avianca and LATAM will face the toughest challenge in their history. In front of them, they have up-and-coming airlines such as Viva Air and Wingo and startups like Ultra Air and Starblue Airlines.

In particular, Viva Air seems to be the biggest rival for the Colombian legacies. Following the footsteps of Latin American low-cost giants like Azul, and Volaris, Viva Air is decentralizing the Colombian aviation market, disrupting the international connectivity, and seizing the opportunity the current crisis is creating.

Meanwhile, Avianca, like LATAM and Grupo Aeromexico, will have to reinvent itself, particularly in the domestic market, to compete better in the post-COVID world.

What do you think about Avianca’s canceled routes? Let us know in the comments.