LATAM Airlines opposed Avianca and Viva’s merger on Tuesday.

An Avianca and a Viva Air plane seen at Medellin International
Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.

Avianca has presented a resource before Colombia’s civil aviation authority (Aerocivil) requesting minor clarification and modifications to the latest State resolution giving viability to its merger with Viva Air. This ultra-low-cost airline ceased operations in February.

Avianca’s requests

A couple of weeks ago, Colombia’s authorities approved the Avianca-Viva Air merger but imposed certain conditions on it. The process to approve this merger took seven months and may have come a little bit too late since Viva Air ceased operations in late February, unable to keep up with its financial burden.

After receiving the conditional approval of the merger, Avianca released a statement saying it would review it before accepting the conditions. On Wednesday, the Colombian flag carrier announced it presented a resource requesting minor clarifications and modifications to the approval.

An Avianca plane

Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.

The aim is to ensure that the conditions demanded by Aerocivil can apply to the current market reality and operational conditions, including Viva’s impacted network of routes, planes, and employees. In this regard, Adrian Neuhauser, President and CEO of Avianca, said,

“The purpose of the appeal is to guarantee the minimum conditions to be able to operate what remains of Viva and thus preserve connectivity in the country and the offer to passengers. From day one, we have proposed solutions and protected hundreds of thousands of affected users. We categorically reject the insistence of some competitors to hinder the process with the sole purpose of eliminating what is left of Viva.”

Avianca agrees to help Viva’s stranded passengers

One of the six conditions set by Aerocivil to approve Avianca and Viva’s merger was that the rights of Viva’s passengers must be respected. Aerocivil urged both airlines to guarantee reimbursements for canceled flight tickets and that those with tickets pending execution must be allowed to fly. Viva Air was encouraged to respond correctly after its “unilateral decision to cease operations.”

Today, Viva Air accepted the conditions to protect passengers affected by Viva’s cessation of operations. This includes passengers who had purchased ‘Viva Pass,’ a sort-of subscription that gave the travelers a fixed fare for a certain number of trips per year.

Since Viva’s closure, Avianca has set up a passenger protection scheme. The airline has relocated over 90,000 Viva’s stranded travelers in flights all across Colombia.

LATAM Airlines oppose the merger

Throughout the merger process, many airlines have stated their opposition, including the now-bankrupted Ultra Air. On Tuesday, LATAM Airlines filed an appeal before Aerocivil looking to block the Viva-Avianca merger.

A LATAM Colombia aircraft

Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.

As reported first by Bloomberg, LATAM Airlines believes that some criteria and elements still need to be defined, such as what will happen with the slots at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport (BOG) and how to avoid inefficiencies in their use. LATAM argued that Viva Air has not formally returned the El Dorado slots. This has prevented the reallocation of them to other operators.

By filing this appeal, LATAM is effectively delaying the final approval of the merger. Now, Colombia’s Aerocivil must analyze and evaluate the arguments presented by the carrier and give a response to the appeal.

Do you think Avianca should move on with the merger with Viva Air despite Viva Air not flying since February 28? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Bloomberg.


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