Fleet size 173
Headquarters Bogotá, Colombia
|Frequent-flyer program LifeMiles|
Alliance Star Alliance
|Founded 5 December 1919; 97 years ago (1919-12-05) as SCADTA|
Secondary hubs Juan Santamaría International Airport (Avianca Costa Rica) Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Avianca Ecuador)
Focus cities La Aurora International Airport (Avianca Guatemala) Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (Avianca Honduras) José María Córdova International Airport Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport Miami International Airport
Subsidiaries Avianca El Salvador, Volaris, Avianca Costa Rica
Hubs El Dorado International Airport
Parent organizations Avianca Holdings, Latin Airways Corp
Founders Aristides Noguera, Jacobo Correa, Rafael Palacio
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Avianca S.A. (acronym in Spanish for "Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A.", Airways of the American Continent) has been the national airline and flag carrier of Colombia since 5 December 1919, when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA. It is headquartered in Bogotá, D.C. with its main hub at El Dorado International Airport. Avianca also comprises a group of seven Latin American airlines, whose operations are combined to function as one airline using a code sharing system. Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia and second largest in Latin America. Avianca together with its subsidiaries has the most extensive network of destinations in Latin America. It is wholly owned by Synergy Group S.A., a South American holding company established by Germán Efromovich and specializing in air transport. It is listed on the Colombia Stock Exchange.
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- SCADTA 19191940
- National Airways of Colombia 19401994
- Merger and alliance 19942002
- Summa Alliance 200204
- American Continent Airways 200409
- Avianca TACA merger 200913
- Star Alliance
- Avianca Holdings SA 2013present
- Frequent Flyer Program
- Codeshare agreements
- Incidents and accidents
Avianca is the world's second oldest airline after KLM, and celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2009, when it was announced that it would merge with TACA. It is the oldest airline in the Western Hemisphere. It became an official member of Star Alliance on 21 June 2012, after a process that lasted approximately 18 months from the initial announcement of their invitation to join the Alliance.
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The airline traces its history back to 5 December 1919, in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Colombians Ernesto Cortissoz (the first President of the Airline), Rafael Palacio, Cristóbal Restrepo, Jacobo Correa and Aristides Noguera and Germans Wilhem Schnurbusch, Werner Kämerer, Stuart Hosie and Albert Tietjen founded the Colombo-German Company, called Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aéreo or SCADTA. The company accomplished their first flight between Barranquilla and the nearby town of Puerto Colombia using a Junkers F.13, transporting 57 pieces of mail. The flight was piloted by German Helmuth von Krohn. This and another aircraft of the same type were completely mechanically constructed monoplanes, the engines of which had to be modified to efficiently operate in the climate of the country. There were nine aircraft in the fleet with a total range of 850 km (528 mi) which could carry up to four passengers and two crewmen. Due to the topographic characteristics of the country and the lack of airports at the time, floats were adapted for two of the Junkers aircraft to make water landings in the rivers near different towns. Using these floats, Helmuth von Krohn was able to perform the first inland flight over Colombia on 20 October 1920, following the course of the Magdalena River; the flight took eight hours and required four emergency landings in the water.
Soon after the airline was founded, German scientist and philanthropist Peter von Bauer became interested in the airline and contributed general knowledge, capital and a tenth aircraft for the company, as well as obtaining concessions from the Colombian government to operate the country's airmail transportation division using the airline, which began in 1922. This new contract allowed SCADTA to thrive in a new frontier of aviation. By the mid-1920s, SCADTA started its first international routes that initially covered destinations in Venezuela and the United States. In 1924, the aircraft that both Ernesto Cortissoz and Helmuth von Krohn were flying crashed into an area currently known as Bocas de Ceniza in Barranquilla, killing them. In the early 1940s, Peter von Bauer sold his shares in the airline to the US-owned Pan American World Airways.
National Airways of Colombia (1940–1994)
On 14 June 1940, in the city of Barranquilla, SCADTA, under ownership by United States businessmen, merged with Colombian Air Carrier SACO (acronym of Servicio Aéreo Colombiano), forming the new Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia S.A. or Avianca. Five Colombians participated in this: Rafael María Palacio, Jacobo A. Corea, Cristobal Restrepo, and Aristides Noguera, as well as German citizens Albert Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was filled by Martín del Corral.
In 1946, Avianca began flights to Quito, Lima, Panama City, Miami, New York City and Europe, using Douglas DC-4s and C-54 Skymasters. In 1951, Avianca acquired Lockheed 749 Constellations and 1049 Super Constellations. In 1961, Avianca leased two Boeing 707 aircraft, to operate its international routes and on 2 November 1961, it acquired its own Boeing 720s. In 1976, Avianca became the first Latin American airline to continuously operate a Boeing 747. Three years later, it started operations with another 747, this time a 747 Combi, mixing cargo and passenger operations.
Merger and alliance (1994–2002)
In 1994, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and the helicopter operator Helicol, merged, beginning Avianca's new system of operations. This arrangement allowed for specialized services in cargo (Avianca Cargo) and postal services, as well as a more modern fleet, made up of Boeing 767–200s, Boeing 767–300s, Boeing 757–200s, McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, Fokker 50s, and Bell helicopters.
By 1996, Avianca Postal Services became Deprisa, which provided various mail services.
Summa Alliance (2002–04)
After the September 11 attacks, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM Colombia, and its major rival ACES Colombia joined efforts to create Alianza Summa, which began merged operations on 20 May 2002. In November 2003, Alianza Summa was disbanded and ACES Colombia was liquidated altogether and SAM Colombia was acquired to be a regional carrier under Avianca's brand.
American Continent Airways (2004–09)
On 10 December 2004, Avianca concluded a major reorganization process, undertaken after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, by obtaining confirmation of its reorganization plan, which was financially backed by the Brazilian consortium, OceanAir/Synergy Group and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, allowing the airline to obtain funds for US$63 million, in the 13 months following withdrawal from bankruptcy.
Under this plan, Avianca was bought by Synergy Group, and was consolidated with its subsidiaries OceanAir and VIP Ecuador. In 2009, they were re-branded as Avianca Brazil and Avianca Ecuador, respectively.
Avianca-TACA merger (2009–13)
In 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA. This created AviancaTaca Holdings, which instantly became one of the region's largest airlines, with 129 aircraft and flights to more than 100 destinations.
In November 2009, the airline's Chief Executive Fabio Villegas announced that the airline was looking to replace its Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft with newer aircraft of 100 seats or less. On 1 January 2011, the airline decided to retire the Fokker 100 aircraft in 2011 and replace them with 10 Airbus A318 leased from GECAS. The aircraft were delivered from February to April 2011.
On 10 November 2010, Star Alliance announced that Avianca (and its merger counterpart, TACA) were full members in 2012. Due to Avianca's entry into Star Alliance, it ended its codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines and began a new codeshare agreement with United Airlines. TACA had been codesharing with United Airlines since 2006. On 21 June 2012, Avianca and TACA were both officially admitted into Star Alliance.
Avianca Holdings S.A. (2013–present)
TACA and all other AviancaTaca airlines changed their brand to Avianca on 28 May 2013. On 21 March 2013, at the annual general meeting, the shareholders approved the change of corporate name from AviancaTaca Holdings S.A. to Avianca Holdings S.A.
In early 2015 it was announced that the airline had concluded a memorandum of understanding with Sky Airline of Chile, and would acquire a 59% controlling stake in Sky Airline. Until the deal was finalised Sky Airline would continue to operate independently.
Avianca's headquarters are on Avenida El Dorado and between Avenida la Esmeralda and Gobernación de Cundinamarca, located in the Ciudad Salitre area of Bogota. The building is located next to the Gran Estación. Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.
Avianca's hubs are in Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport, in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport and in Lima at Jorge Chávez International Airport. Its focus cities are Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, San José and Quito as well as Miami, where Avianca is the largest foreign carrier by number of passengers. The airline covers 114 destinations in 27 countries.
Frequent Flyer Program
Avianca launched their LifeMiles frequent-flyer program in 2011, replacing AviancaPlus. The levels include Silver, Gold and Diamond, replacing the former Basic, Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Executive levels. This program covers all Avianca Holdings airlines.
Avianca has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
The frequent flyer program of Avianca and its subsidiaries is LifeMiles.This program is to reward customer loyalty. The membership is free and you can register online. LifeMiles members earn miles every time they fly with Star Alliance members, Avianca subsidiaries or use service in some hotels, retails, car rental and credit card partners.
LifeMiles has three Elite Tiers:
As of February 2016, the Avianca Holding S.A. fleet consists of the following aircraft:
Avianca's first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was delivered on 17 December 2014 and launched its first service on 16 January 2015 between Bogota and New York.
Incidents and accidents
The airline suffered a few incidents during the 1980s and early 1990s. The deadliest of those incidents was Avianca Flight 203, which was bombed in 1989, following orders from Pablo Escobar to kill presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo. In the aftermath, it was found that Gaviria had not boarded the aircraft. Only one successful bombing has occurred in the airline's history, while most other gang related incidents were related to hijackings or shootings on board. In most hijackings, all passengers and crew members, unaffiliated with the hijacker's cause, were immediately released.
In the field of security, Avianca has different international certifications that guarantee the quality of its procedures and safety standards in their services of maintenance, training and support to aircraft. In addition, on November 27, 2008 it received certification ISAGO (IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations), being the first airline in the world to receive it. ISAGO certifies the compliance with the standards and practices for the control and management of the processes of care and boarding of passengers, cargo, luggage, as well as assistance and handling of aircraft.