Viva Air, the Colombian low-cost airline, may cease operations due to its ongoing financial crisis, affecting over a million customers who have purchased tickets. The company’s board of directors is said to have decided to ground its entire fleet and liquidate its assets. The airline’s finances have been under scrutiny, and the board concluded that the operation was no longer viable.
According to sources, the board believes that even if the company were to pay all its debts and be protected under the Economic Recovery Decree, the operation would only survive for another two weeks. The company’s debts are said to be around $4.06 trillion as of January 31, 2023. The previous president of Viva Air, Felix Antelo, warned the transport minister that the company could not meet its obligations.
Integration with Avianca
The board of directors also believes that the Aeronautica Civil’s (Aerocivil) decision to allow Avianca to merge with VivaAir which would be a significant mistake that would harm Colombia’s tourism and economy. The low-cost airline hopes that the Aerocivil’s director, Sergio Paris, or the transport minister, Guillermo Reyes, will contact the company’s executives, including the new president, Francisco Lalinde, to arrange the long-awaited integration with Avianca.
If the Aerocivil does not approve the merger by Tuesday, the board of directors has indicated that the airline will cease operations, leaving over a million customers who have already purchased tickets without refunds in the short term.
No decision yet
The airline denies any imminent decision to close down its operations. However, the airline is struggling to continue its operations as several air and ground service personnel have resigned. The company announced a week ago that it would temporarily stop using five of its planes. The airline is negotiating with aircraft owners to continue its operation. Nevertheless, one of them has requested that the airline temporarily ground five of their planes in the United States.
The airline has already canceled several flights between the Caribbean coast and Cali, as well as all 14 flights to San Andres Island in less than a month. The island’s economy relies on tourism.
Employees of the airline have written a letter expressing concern over their financial situation. They claim that approximately 5,000 people who depend on the airline for their livelihoods are in limbo due to the lack of clarity from the authorities about whether there will be a bailout.
Viva Air’s possible closure would be a massive blow to Colombia’s tourism industry, as the airline serves many popular destinations across the country. It would also leave many people without jobs and livelihoods. The government must take urgent action to resolve the financial crisis and prevent the collapse of the airline. The integration of Viva Air with Avianca could be a solution, but the authorities must take decisive action. If the airline is forced to close, it would represent a significant setback for the Colombian aviation industry.