Colombian airline Avianca files for bankruptcy in US court

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Avianca planes have been immobilized since March
Avianca planes have been immobilized since March

The Colombian national airline, Avianca, has filed for bankruptcy in a US court.

The carrier is the second largest in Latin America, but its passenger operations have been grounded since March due to the coronavirus.

He said the pandemic had cut his income by more than 80% and was struggling with high fixed costs.

If it does not come out of bankruptcy, Avianca will be the first major airline to respond to the pandemic.

In a statement, the company said it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York court. The process defers an American business’s obligations to its creditors, giving it time to reorganize debt or sell parts of the business.

CEO Anko van der Werff said the move was necessary to ensure that the New York-listed airline emerges as “a better and more efficient airline that has operated for many years.”

More than 140 of its planes have been immobilized since Colombian President Ivan Duque closed the country’s airspace in March. Most of its 20,000 employees have been put on leave without pay.

Behind KLM, Avianca is the second continuously operating airline in the world.

He previously filed for bankruptcy in the early 2000s and was saved by an agreement with the Bolivian oil magnate Efromovich. The airline grew rapidly under his leadership, but its growing debt led to a successful coup against Efromovich last year. It is now managed by Kingsland Holdings.

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to the international aviation industry, with governments imposing travel restrictions and containment measures.

Global air transportation has dropped 90 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association. The agency predicts that Latin American airlines will lose $ 15 billion (£ 12 billion; € 13.9 billion) in revenue this year – the largest decline in the history of the industry.

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