Banned from flying since May, the airline Avianca Brasil still has seven A318 jets held at airports in Brazil. Belonging to the Airbus lease arm, the planes are due to be returned in the coming weeks after a court ruling.
Avianca had already been summoned to return the aircraft, but declined to comply with the court order on the grounds that this would prevent it from fulfilling the bankruptcy recovery plan.
Avianca Brasil stopped flying in May after the Brazilian civil aviation agency (ANAC) concluded that the company did not meet minimum safety standards. Weeks later, ANAC suspended the airline’s operating certificate. At the end of July, its slots at Congonhas Airport, in São Paulo, were transferred to Azul, MAP and Passaredo.
The company, which operated a fleet of more than 50 planes in December last year when it filed for bankruptcy protection, flew with only six aircraft in May, two A319 and four A318. However, Avianca had four other A318s without flight conditions, one of which has been stored since 2015.
Airbus tries to recover these eight A318s of which only one was sent to France (PR-AVJ registration). Of the remaining seven, four would be unable to fly, PR-AVL, which is at Sao José dos Campos Airport, PR-ONR, at Brasilia Airport, and PR-ONC and PR-ONI, also stationed in Congonhas. since Avianca’s flights were suspended.
In the petition, Airbus also requires the return of PW6000 engines and other equipment, but the status of these items is unknown. The A318 registration PR-ONO, for example, was photographed by Airway without the turbofans and the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer missing. Avianca also maintains two other jets in Congonhas in poor condition, PR-ONR (stopped since June 2018) and PR-ONH (not flying since February 2017).
Despite the expectation of returning to Airbus, these aircraft have very low demand because of the high cost of operation and require considerable refurbishment to be able to operate again. For this reason, it seems unlikely that the company intends to offer them in the leasing market, at least for the most part. Unlike the A318, the other Avianca planes were well accepted and soon transferred to other airlines such as former rivals Azul and LATAM that now fly A320 models.