Strong criticism of the airlines that operate in the country made adrian neuhauserpresident of Avianca, for his lack of commitment to the crisis faced by Viva Air, which finally left it out of the national air market.
“Our deeds did little or nothing, and the one that has disproportionately taken care of the problem is Avianca”, said the manager, who observed that the company cannot continue to absorb this disproportionately, so that this aid will go until May 31.
(Also read: President of Avianca is dispatched against his driver for the death of Viva)
What went wrong in the integration failure with Viva Air?
We knew that it was very easy to find an agreement with the proposed conditions. We had meetings with authorities for tens of hours, explaining why those conditions did not work and why the right thing for the country was to allow us to integrate with the conditions we set. We thought that this discussion had had an echo; however, each resolution was not consistent with what we had discussed. Finally, when the resolution of the appeal comes out, which is the last instance, we saw with great sadness that they had not come close to what we had proposed.
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And there he realized that the rescue was not possible…
We carried out an analysis of what it meant for Avianca to integrate under the conditions they proposed. To give an idea, it implies a loss of between 500 million and 1,000 million dollars. Beyond assuming all of Viva’s obligations, it would mean absorbing a company that would have structures that could not be resolved for between 50 and 100 million a year, and that would also have conditions for the next three or four years for Avianca that would limit its ability to compete. All those obligations, plus the recurring loss that had no solution, plus limiting the ability to continue competing, was something that we could not absorb.
How are the economic rights acquired in Viva?
If there is no other solution for Viva, which we do not imagine there is another, then it will go into liquidation and our shareholders will fall in order of priority there, to see if there is something to recover.
At what stage are the investigations that the Superintendencies of Industry and Transport opened on you?
The SIC (Superintendency of Industry and Commerce) gave us guarantees to complete the investigation it has, we are evaluating them in light of the decision we made not to integrate and we will see if we reject them, accept them or ask that they be modified. We are still carrying out this analysis and we have not made a decision.
Will Avianca fill the void left by Viva Air in terms of routes?
There remains a large competitive gap, which both we and our competitors will seek to fill. Viva leaves a little less than a dozen routes in which it was a sole operator, we hope to supply the vast majority, obviously, shared with the competition, but we have everything available. It will not be easy or fast, when an airline disappears it is a process that takes years. We want to be part of the solution, we are looking for planes and personnel to supply these routes, we will request slots to supply them under the distribution regulations of the RAC ((Colombian Aeronautical Regulation).
What will happen to the slots?
We believe that the RAC must be complied with and that it is imposed on all airlines equally, this has to do with both the return of slots and any flexibility.
And with Viva passengers who still have their reservations…
From the beginning we believe that this is a problem for the regulator and the industry, in which all of it must act coherently. In Mexico, for example, with Interjet, the regulator rolled up its sleeves, set up a structure and required all airlines to participate equally. Here that did not happen, our competitors did little or nothing and the one that has disproportionately taken care of the problem is Avianca. We have moved close to 170,000 passengers, close to 95 percent of those who have been rescued free of charge are from us. Our competitors, who account for half the market, have bailed out less than 5 percent.
What will happen then?
We believe that Avianca cannot continue disproportionately absorbing this, we have set a limit until May 31. Aerocivil refers to the fact that it is considering a protection scheme, and to the extent that it is symmetrical and even, we are going to consider it and participate.
What to expect from the low-cost market, when two companies in the segment couldn’t hold out?
That will continue, the important thing is that the authority demands that the airline that is here follow solid economic models, that it can pay its obligations and fulfill its functions. Selling tickets at cheaper prices than making them is not viable.