Is Avianca Looking To Scrap Turboprop Operations?

Avianca is reportedly looking to retire its entire fleet of ATR-72 planes permanently. Instead, it plans to become an airline that only operates jet aircraft. Avianca is taking this decision as a way to simplify its operations while going through its bankruptcy process in the US.

Avianca ATR-72
Avianca is planning to retire its ATR-72 fleet. Photo: Avianca

Getting rid of the turboprops

As of March 31, 2021, Avianca had a fleet of 11 ATR-72 planes, according to the airline’s financial statements. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these planes were going to be used with Avianca’s new regional carrier: Avianca Express.

Nevertheless, Avianca had to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in May 2020 due to the impact of the COVID crisis.

Since filing for bankruptcy, the South American carrier has been following a reorganization process. It has closed its Peruvian base, reduced the number of employees, and downsized its fleet size.

Avianca went from having 171 planes at the end of 2019 to 144 after 2021’s first quarter. So far, Avianca has rejected four A319, two A320, two A321, three A330, two A300F, four ATR-72, and ten Embraer E190.

Now, as reported by Aviacionline, Avianca could retire its entire fleet of ATR-72 fleet. It would be interesting to know what will happen to these planes because Avianca owns them; they’re not under operating lease.

Avianca’s ATR fleet has a capacity for 68 passengers; currently, nine serve in Colombia for Avianca Express, and two are in Guatemala. According to ch-aviation, Avianca’s ATR fleet has an average age of 7.7 years.

Avianca ATR-72
Avianca currently has 11 ATR-72 on its fleet. They’re mostly used on its regional carrier Avianca Express. Photo: Avianca

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How would Avianca’s fleet look like?

Avianca’s fleet at the end of 2021’s first quarter was 144 planes. It had 23 Airbus A319, 55 A320, ten A320neo, 11 A321, two A321neo, seven A330, six A330F, three A300F, 13 Boeing 787-8, one B787-9, two B767F, and 11 ATR-72. The airline owns or has financial leases on 84 aircraft, while 60 are under operating leases.

Retiring the turboprop fleet would only reduce Avianca’s fleet to 133 planes. More importantly, it would allow Avianca to become a jet-only operator. The airline would also have to adjust its workforce, something that it is already working on, according to local media outlets.

Avianca’s fleet would be all jet-based with both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Photo: Getty Images.

A look at Avianca’s financial results

In 2020, Avianca holdings posted a net loss of US$1.904 billion due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, Avianca has been slowly improving financially due to a reasonably good recovery in Colombia’s aviation market.

During 2021’s first quarter, Avianca’s net loss was US$311 million, according to its financial statement.

Thanks to its Chapter 11 process, Avianca obtained access to US$2 billion in Debtor-In-Possession Funding (DIP Funding). The money came in two tranches worth US$1.27 billion and US$722 million, respectively.

As of May 31, 2021, Avianca’s cash liquidity position was US$920 million, according to its latest consolidated statement of financial situation.

Avianca, similarly to LATAM and Aeromexico, is working on its Chapter 11 exit plan. The airline aims to file it to the Court before the year ends and successfully exit its bankruptcy process.

Did you ever fly onboard Avianca’s ATR fleet? How was it? Let us know in the comments.