Avianca S.A. (BVC:AVA) (acronym in Spanish for Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia S.A., currently Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A.) is the flag carrier airline of Colombia[1][2] since December 5, 1919 when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA.[3][4] It is headquartered in Bogotá, D.C. with its hub at the El Dorado International Airport. Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia and a major one in Latin America: Avianca together with its subsidiaries has the most extended network of (both passenger and cargo) destinations in the Americas and one of the largest and most modern aircraft fleet in the continent.[5] It is wholly owned by AviancaTACA S.A., a Latin American holding company established in Panamá and specializing in air transport. The company is listed in the Colombia Stock Exchange.

On October 7, 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA but both airlines have stated that each will maintain their own identity and operate separately for the moment.[6] In 2009 Avianca turned 90 (years) making it the second world's oldest airline still in operation;[7][8] It is actually the oldest continuously operating airline in the Western Hemisphere.[9]

Since April 26, 2010, OceanAir is being rebranded Avianca in the same way as it was done with SAM years ago and it would do with other subsidiaries (for example, VIP is partially rebranded) to place Avianca as the leading airline in Latin America.[10]

On November 10, 2010, Avianca and Taca were accepted to be part of Star Alliance in a process that will last around 18 months until both airlines fulfill all requirements to be official members of the Alliance.[11] Before that happens (by April 2012), all airlines under AviancaTaca umbrella will be completely unified under a unique single brand.[12]


SCADTA (1919–1940)Edit

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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 Werner Kämerer, Stuart Hosie and Alberto Tietjen founded the Colombo-German Company, called Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aéreo or SCADTA. The company accomplished its first flight between Barranquilla and the nearby town of Puerto Colombia, aboard a Junkers F.13, wherein 57 pieces of mail were transported; 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 be able to efficiently operate in the climatic conditions of the country; there were nine aircraft in the fleet with a total range of 850 km (528 mi) (525 Mi) and 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, two seaplanes were adapted to the Junkers aircraft, in order for them to accomplish water landings in the rivers of 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 had to make four emergency landings in the water.

Soon after the vision of the founding group had become a reality, 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. This new contract allowed SCADTA to thrive in a new frontier of aviation. By the mid 1920s, SCADTA, having overcome many obstacles, inaugurated its first international routes that initially covered destinations in Venezuela and the United States. Regretfully, in 1924, the aircraft that both Ernesto Cortissoz and Helmuth von Krohn were piloting, crashed into an area currently known as Bocas de Ceniza in Barranquilla, causing their deaths. Despite this tragedy, the airline continued to thrive under the guidance of German Peter von Bauer until the early 1940s, where circumstances related to the outbreak of World War II forced him to sell his shares in the airline to the US-owned Pan American World Airways.

National Airways of Colombia (1940–1994)Edit

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 act: (Rafael María Palacio, Jacobo A. Corea, Cristobal Restrepo, Aristides Noguera) and German citizens Alberto Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was filled by Martín del Corral. There had been decades of dedicated work and contribution to Colombia's development through actions, among which the following may be highlighted:

  • In September 1920, with Fritz Hammer as pilot, Wilhem Schnurrbush as copilot and Stuart Hosie as a passenger, SCADTA accomplished its first flight between Barranquilla and Puerto Berrío.
  • On 19 October of that same year, Helmuth Von Krohn accomplished the first flight between Barranquilla and Girardot and by 1921 routes between Barranquilla, Girardot and Neiva were established.
  • In 1922, SCADTA began to provide airmail service.
  • In August 1922, General Pedro Nel Ospina, then President of Colombia, used a SCADTA aircraft to conduct official business for the first time.
  • On 19 July 1923, to save the country from bankruptcy, SCADTA transported a gold and currency load from Puerto Berrío to Girardot.
  • On 12 July 1928, a SCADTA Junkers F.13, commanded by Pilot Herbert Boy, crossed the Equator.
  • On 23 July 1929, regular routes between Girardot and Bogotá were established.
  • The cost of the first SCADTA air tickets were as follows: from Bogotá to Barranquilla, COP $75; from Bogotá to Cartagena, COP $85; from Bogotá to Cartago, COP $35; and from Bogotá to Santiago de Cali, COP $50.
  • On 16 July 1931, SCADTA established the first mail service between Bogotá and New York City.
  • In 1937, the airline acquired 10 Boeing 247 twin-engine aircraft, extending its domestic routes.
  • By October 1939, Avianca acquired the first Douglas DC-3 aircraft arriving in the country, flying at the then-incredible speed of 200 miles per hour.
  • Beginning in 1946, Avianca inaugurated flights to Quito, Lima, Panama City, Miami, New York City and finally Europe, using Douglas DC-4 and C-54 Skymaster aircraft,.
  • In 1951, Avianca acquired the Lockheed 749 Constellation and the 1049 Super Constellation aircraft, the biggest and fastest at the time.
  • A grand feat in Colombian commercial aviation was also conducted by Avianca in 1956, when the airline committed to take the Colombian delegation, that was to participate in the Melbourne Olympic Games in Australia. There were 61 hours of continuous operation, with only one stop for refueling allowed.
  • Four years later, in 1961, Avianca leased two Boeing 707 aircraft, to operate its international routes and on November 2, 1961, it acquired its own Boeing 720s, baptizing them with the names Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander.
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  • 1976 was an important one for Avianca, becoming 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.
  • In 1981, the possibilities for in-ground service for passengers in Bogotá expanded, thanks to the modern air terminal that Avianca commissioned: Avianca's Air Bridge. The new terminal originally operated routes to Miami, New York City, Santiago de Cali, Medellín, Pasto and Montería.
  • By 1990, Avianca had acquired the most modern aircraft in the world: two Boeing 767-200ERs, which were baptized with the names Cristóbal Colón and Américo Vespucio.

Avianca's System (1994–2002)Edit

In 1994, a strategic alliance was established to merge three of the most important enterprises of the aeronautical sector of Colombia: Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and the helicopter operator Helicol, which brought life to Avianca's new system of operations. This system offered specialized services in Cargo (Avianca Cargo) and postal services, as well as the most modern fleet in Latin America made up of: Boeing 767-200, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 757-200, McDonnell Douglas MD-83, Fokker 50 and Bell helicopters.

This new system covered the following destinations:

  • In Colombia: Bogotá, Arauca, Armenia, Santiago de Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Santa Marta, Leticia, Manizales, Montería, Pasto, Pereira, Popayán, Riohacha, San Andrés, Valledupar, Providencia, Capurganá, Bahía Solano, Nuquí, Caucasia and Chigorodó.
  • In South America: Quito, Guayaquil, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Chile, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Lima and Caracas.
  • In North America: Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Mexico City.
  • In Europe: Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt am Main and London.
  • In Central America and the Caribbean: Panama, San José, San Juan, Curaçao, Santo Domingo and Aruba.

By 1996, Avianca Postal Services evolved into Deprisa, providing express mail services through its products Deprisa and Deprisa Empresarial, traditional mail, certified mail, shipment airport-to-airport and P.O. boxes.

On 10 December 1998, Avianca announced the inception of a new "connections center" in Bogotá, offering around 6,000 possible weekly connecting flights and an increased number of frequencies, schedules and destinations, taking advantage of the privileged geographical location of the country's capital, for the benefit of Colombian and international travellers between South America, Europe and North America.

In addition to its Avianca Connection, and alliance partnerships, Avianca offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:

Summa Alliance (2002–2004)Edit

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After a rigorous and complex process, the worldwide aviation industry came through 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. These three airlines decided to strategically merge their strengths, to offer a more efficient service, with concerns to quality, quantity, security and competition in a new struggling marketplace. However, adverse circumstances within the industry and markets, forced the alliance to disband and airline shareholders decided to initiate the liquidation of Alianza Summa in November 2003, to focus in strengthening the Avianca trademark. These decisions resulted in the liquidation of ACES Colombia altogether and the acquisition of SAM Colombia, as a regional carrier under Avianca's system.

American Continent Airways (2004–present)Edit

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On 10 December 2004, Avianca concluded one of the most important and ambitious reorganization processes, 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 dollars, in the 13 months following withdrawal from C-11.

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The plan, with the support of 99.8% of the voting creditors and which obtained the majority endorsement of the Creditors Committee, will enter into force once the Company emerges from bankruptcy. In accordance with United States laws, the administration has the trust obligation to consider any other investment proposal until the final term expiration stipulated. Notwithstanding, such an offer, besides being better than the one that has been approved by Avianca's domestic and international creditors and confirmed today by the Court, must be final, i.e. fully financed and backed with non-reimbursable cash deposits or equivalent mechanisms. Likewise, such proposal must be binding. As known, the only investment that complies with these requirements is that of OceanAir/Synergy Group and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which already makes part of the reorganization plan already voted favorably, by the creditors and confirmed by the Judge.

Synergy Group is an evidenced, credit-worthy Brazilian entrepreneurial conglomerate. Its strength lies in the oil sector, building, installing and offering maintenance to offshore oil platforms; it is currently carrying out exploration work in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. Other businesses include: the extraction of gas in the United States, naval construction, telephony infrastructure, hydroelectric power plants, communications and a hydrocarbons marine exploration company, which extends throughout nine countries, with more than 5,000 workers.

It also owns and operates OceanAir, which services around thirty cities in Brazil, as well as VIP, an airline in Ecuador, Taxi Aero, a charter airline in Brazil and the recently acquired Wayra, in Peru, as well as Turb Serv, dedicated to the maintenance of turbines.

In 2009, OceanAir and VIP Ecuador will be rebranded as Avianca, to consolidate as one airline, following the ambitious expansion plans of the airline.

AviancaTaca alliance (since 2009)Edit

The merger of Colombia's Avianca and Salvadoran-based TACA is the latest sign that consolidation in the Latin American airline sector is picking up.

The newly formed Holdco - which will be controlled jointly by Avianca and TACA - instantly becomes one of the region's largest airlines after Brazil's TAM and GOL, with 129 aircraft and flights to more than 100 destinations.

In November 2009, the airline's Chief Executive Fabio Villegas announced that the airline is looking to replace its Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft with newer aircraft of 100 seats or less. The 10 Fokker 50s and 15 Fokker 100s are currently operated on flights shorter than one-and-a-half hours. Aircraft manufactured by Brazil's Embraer, Canada's Bombardier Aerospace and the Airbus A318 are being considered for the replacement.[13]

In December 2010, The airline made the decision to retire the Fokker 100 aircraft in 2011 and replace them with 10 Airbus A318 leased from GECAS from 2011-2018. The aircraft will be delivered during January to February 2011.

Star Alliance (from 2012)Edit

On November 10, 2010, Star Alliance announced Avianca (and its subsidiary, TACA) to become full member in mid-2012. Due to Avianca's entry into Star Alliance it has ended its codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines and began a new codeshare agreement with both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. TACA has been codesharing with United Airlines since 2006.[14]


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Main article: Avianca destinations

Avianca's hub is in Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport. Its focus cities are: Medellín, Santiago de Cali, Cartagena de Indias and Barranquilla, as well as Miami, where Avianca is the largest foreign carrier by number of passengers.

In May 2011, Avianca's president Fabio Villegas, announced that the airline's next goal is to finally resume flights to London, commencing in early 2012. Avianca's fleet should be strong enough for the airline to begin services to Heathrow Airport where it already has secured landing/departure slots.[15]

It was also confirmed that Avianca will also look to expand their limited Spanish routes such as the Medellin-Madrid schedule; it is looking at increasing the number of flights between both cities as per customer demand.

Avianca has applied to the Colombian authority "Aerocivil" for permission to fly a new Bogota-San Salvador-Montreal 3 flights per week using a A319 and a Bogota-San Salvador-Toronto route four times per week, also using an A319. Other potential new routes include Bogota-Panama City-Tegucigalpa daily; Bogota-Havana twice per week, and a new Cali-Panama-San Salvador route daily. [16][17]

The airline has also received authorization from Colombian authorities to fly to Guatemala and El Salvador via San Jose, Costa Rica.

At the same time, the president of Avianca announced that the airline is seeking routes to Asia, but flights probably won't start until 2012 or later when the airline receives the 787s.

Subsidiaries Edit

Avianca's subsidiaries destinations
Company № of destinarions Coming destinations Notes
Avianca 69 - Main article: Avianca destinations
AeroGal 9 - Main article: AeroGal destinations
Helicol  ? - Main article: Helicol destinations
Avianca Brazil 22 - Main article: Avianca Brazil destinations
SAM See: Avianca - Main article: Avianca destinations
Tampa Cargo 20 - Main article: Tampa Cargo destinations
VIP 6 - Main article: VIP destinations

Frequent Flier ProgramEdit

Avianca launched their new LifeMiles programme in 2011, replacing the old AviancaPlus system for frequent fliers. The levels include Silver, Gold and Diamond, replacing the old AviancaPlus Basic, AviancaPlus Gold, AviancaPlus Platinum, and AviancaPlus Platinum Executive levels. The new LifeMiles system also incorporates TACA passengers' flights, unifying the two rewards systems as a result of Avianca's recent purchase of TACA.

Codeshare agreementsEdit

Avianca currently maintains codeshare agreements with airlines[18] in North America, South America and Europe (January 2011):

Cargo Codeshare Agreements

  • Tampa Cargo
  • United Parcel Service' [30]

From 2012 Avianca will have codeshare agreements with all Star Alliance's[31] members:


As of February 2011, the Avianca fleet consists of the following aircraft:[32][33]

Avianca current fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Options Passengers Notes
J Y Total
Fokker 50 10 - 50 50
Airbus A318-100 10 12 88 100
Airbus A319-100 10 8 14 12 108 120
Airbus A320-200 27 12 34 12 138 150
Airbus A320neo <center>— <center>33 <center>TBA
Airbus A330-200 8 2 10 30 222 252
Airbus A350-800 10 10 <center>TBA First delivery scheduled for 2015.
South American Launch customer
Boeing 787-859 12 8 <center>TBA First delivery scheduled for 2012.
Avianca Cargo Fleet
Airbus A330-200F 4[34] <small/> Cargo To be operated by Tampa Cargo
Boeing 767-200F 4 <small/> Cargo Operated by Tampa Cargo
Boeing 767-300F 1 <small/> Cargo Operated by Tampa Cargo
Total 70 81

The Boeing customer code for Avianca is 59, yielding a model number such as 787–859


Avianca fleet following the jet era[35][36]
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A318 2011 In operation -
Airbus A319-100 2008 In operation -
Airbus A320-200 2008 In operation -
Airbus A330-200 2008 In operation -
Fokker 100 2005 2011 replaced by Airbus A318. Operated total of 15
McDonnell Douglas MD-11ER 1999 1999 All leased
Fokker 50 1993 In operation 11 replaced by Airbus A319
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 1992 2011 Operated total of 31
Boeing 757-259 1992 2010 Operated total of 22
Boeing 767-359 1994 2010 Operated total of 10
Boeing 767-259 1989 2011 Operated total of 10
Boeing 727-259 1978 1998 -
Boeing 727-159 1966 1992 -
Boeing 747-259 1976 1995 -
Boeing 747-159 1976 1995 First Latin American airline to continuously operate the Boeing 747, Operated total of 8
Boeing 707 1969 1992 -
Boeing 720 1961 1984 Ordered 2 plus 2 options on June 30, 1960
Boeing 737-159 1968 1971 Operated a total of two. First Latin American airline to operate them
Avianca fleet prior to the jet era[35][36]
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation 1958 1968 -
Lockheed L-749 Constellation 1956 1968 -
Douglas C-54 Skymaster 1948 1975 -
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar C-60 ? ? -
Douglas DC-4 1945 1970 -
Douglas DC-3 1939 1975 -
Boeing 247D ? ? -
Junkers Ju 52 ? ? -
Fokker Super Universal ? ? -
Ford Trimotor 5-AT-DS ? ? -
Sikorsky S-38 ? ? -
de Havilland Tiger Moth ? ? -
de Havilland Giant Moth ? ? -
Junkers W 34 ? ? -
Junkers W 33 ? ? -
Dornier Do J ? ? -
Dornier Merkur ? ? -
Dornier Komet ? ? -
Junkers F.13 1919 ? -
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Incidents and accidentsEdit

The airline suffered a few incidents during the 1980s and early 1990s. Many were caused by warring gangs, under the assumption that a member of a rival gang was aboard. 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.

Other incidents include:

  • On 21 January 1960, Avianca Flight 671, a Lockheed L-1049E, crashed and burned on landing at Montego Bay International Airport in Jamaica, killing 37 aboard.[37]
  • On 15 January 1966, Avianca Flight 4 crashed shortly after takeoff from Cartagena-Crespo. The cause was determined as maintenance problems, possibly compounded by pilot error.
  • On 21 May 1970, a Douglas DC-3 of Avianca was hijacked to Yariguíes Airport, Barrancabermeja whilst on a flight from El Alcaraván Airport, Yopal to Alberto Lleras Carmargo Airport, Sogamoso. The hijackers had demanded to be taken to Cuba.[38]
  • On 29 July 1972, Douglas C-53s HK-107 and HK-1341 were involved in a mid-air collision over the Las Palomas Mountains. Both aircraft crashed, killing 21 people on HK-107 and 17 people on HK-1341. Both aircraft were operating domestic scheduled passenger flights from La Vanguardia Airport, Villavicencio to El Yopal Airport.[39][40]
  • On 22 August 1973, Douglas DC-3A HK-111 crashed into a hill near Casanare, Colombia, killing 16 of the 17 people on board. The aircraft was operating a domestic scheduled passenger flight from La Vanguardia Airport, Villavicencio to El Alcaraván Airport, Yopal.[41]
  • On 12 August 1974, Douglas C-47 HK-508 flew into Trujillo Mountain killing all 27 people on board. The aircraft was on a domestic scheduled passenger flight from El Dorado Airport, Bogotá to La Florida Airport, Tumaco.[42]
  • On November 27, 1983 Avianca Flight 011, a Boeing 747-200 that crashed onto a mountain, just short of landing at Barajas Airport in Madrid, in November 1983 had 181 fatalities. The cause was determined to be pilot error.
  • On 17 March 1988, Avianca Flight 410, a Boeing 727 domestic flight, crashed into low mountains near Cúcuta - Norte de Santander, Colombia, after take-off, killing all 143 on board. It was determined that pilot error was also the cause of this crash, in a situation similar to that of Avianca Flight 011, five years earlier.
  • On 25 January 1990, Avianca Flight 52, a Boeing 707-320 jet en route from Bogotá to New York City via Medellín, crashed in the town of Cove Neck, New York, after running out of fuel while in a holding pattern, awaiting landing at New York's Kennedy Airport, killing 73 of the 158 people aboard. There was much controversy surrounding this crash.
  • On 26 April 1990, 19th of April Movement presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was gunned down during a domestic Avianca flight.[43][44]



Avianca's current headquarters is 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. The current headquarters, which opened in 2009, is a 46 meters (151 ft) tall, 34,536 square meters (371,740 sq ft) building with a 13,800 square meters (149,000 sq ft) glass façade and a shading coefficient of 0.71% to allow natural air and lighting in the floors of the building. The first floor has stores and a parking area.[45] Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.[46]

External linksEdit

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