Air Transport

Next to auction, Avianca flies with only seven planes

Brazilian airline lost about 27 aircraft in recent weeks and now only operates at four airports
Avianca operated with only seven airplanes on Monday, most of them from the A318 and A319 (photo)

As expected, the Avianca Brasil operation has shrunk drastically in recent days. According to Airway, on this Monday, the airline was flying only seven aircraft: four Airbus A318, two A319 and just one A320, which would, however, be inactive at an airport in the Northeast region of the country.

Awaiting the auction of its assets on May 7, the company informed its partners that it will keep only four airports serviced as of this week: Congonhas (SP), Santos Dumont (RJ), Brasilia and Salvador, with around 39 daily flights.

Following an agreement with creditors to split the slots and the “Amigo” flyer program at seven UPIs, Avianca had to return its major aircraft to the lessors in recent days. Only on April 22, the Monday after Easter holiday, no less than seven Airbus made their last flights for the company. Most of them were sent to Houston, USA, while other planes headed to Spain. According to data from FlightRadar, at least eight airplanes are stopped at Galeão, Guarulhos and Congonhas airports.

Low capacity

Avianca’s survival strategy is focused on operating mainly on the Rio-SP route, in addition to some routes to the capital of Brazil, Brasília, and Salvador, an important tourist destination. Even so, the company loses capacity even on flights maintained as the models that remain in its fleet have fewer seats like the A318 (100 seats) and A319 (120 seats). With the A320, the company carried 150 passengers and, in the case of the Neo version, with a greater fuel economy.

Although it is still flying, the Avianca situation remains serious. Without operating the routes to which it is entitled, the company can see ANAC, the Brazilian civil aviation agency, to redistribute its slots. According to the agency, Avianca has 863 slots in Guarulhos, 268 in Congonhas and 134 in Santos Dumont.

Since the landing and take-off permits are practically what remained of value in the loss-making company, the simple fact that these slots can be divided among their competitors can make the next week’s auction fail, leaving employees and creditors without receiving part of their debts.

If in March there was hope that Azul would take over the main flights, airplanes, mileage program and even part of the employees (for a low amount, that’s true), that possibility disappeared when LATAM and Gol, in order to prevent the advance of the rival, maneuvered to prevent it from taking much of Avianca.

Without the company of David Neeleman, who has already declared that he is out of the auction, the two largest Brazilian airlines remain, in addition to possible foreign candidates, if they bet on opening the domestic market. As long as Avianca continues to operate until next week.

At least 10 former Avianca aircraft have left the country last week while others are parked at Brazilian airports such as the A320neo registration PR-OBF