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Our Review of Avianca Airlines and a Bit of History

Our Review of Avianca Airlines and a Bit of History


Few airways have gone by way of as a lot turmoil as Avianca Airlines has since we began this weblog again in 2007 and began writing in regards to the trade. They have expanded and contracted a number of occasions, gotten extra upscale and gone extra downscale too. So we’re going to offer a bit historical past and provides a overview of Avianca Airlines because it stands now, slightly than what it was earlier than the pandemic rocked the journey trade.

They nonetheless appear to be caught in an id disaster as I write this, asking us to spell it as avianca with a bit “a,” maybe due to their diminished standing amongst higher-end vacationers. They say it’s a small “a” as a result of the airline is for everyone, which is a elaborate manner of claiming they’re a step down from what they was.

It’s slightly troublesome to put in writing about this airline and reference previous expertise as a result of that have has modified a lot. Witness the stat additional down about how they’ve shoved 20% extra seats onto their planes, for starters.

I discussed years again that my Avianca flight to Colombia was one other reminder of simply how far the U.S. airways have fallen compared to a lot of the worldwide carriers.

In the outdated days, Avianca made me really feel like a passenger once more as an alternative of a quantity on a spreadsheet to be optimized and squeezed. On the way in which all the way down to Bogota from Ft. Lauderdale, I used to be flying in financial system however nonetheless had a seat-back leisure system, an actual meal, and a glass of wine. The flight attendants smiled as an alternative of simply nagging everybody to show off their Kindle. My knees weren’t jammed into the seat in entrance of me and so they had a beneficiant baggage allowance with no further charges.

Since worldwide and home passengers may verify two luggage with out charges, there was loads of overhead bin house on my first flight and the three that adopted. Naturally the airplane boarded loads sooner for the home ones since there was no financial purpose for bringing a rollaboard bag on the airplane.

We even acquired drink service on a 45-minute flight from Bogota to Pereira. Alas, these days are within the rear-view mirror and determined occasions known as for determined measures. Avianca is now a downgraded airline and isn’t on the identical stage as its legacy rivals, though they’ve fallen some too.

A Short History of Avianca

Avianca is the second oldest airline on the planet nonetheless working after the Dutch provider KLM, and the second largest in Latin America behind LATAM Airlines Group. In the early 2010s, Avianca acquired TACA, which had been round since 1931 and had spent a long time shopping for up different Latin American airways that have been in bother. Since in addition they ran home flights in Peru, that gave Avianca an entry there as nicely.

In 2012, Avianca and TACA joined Star Alliance, in some ways the perfect worldwide alliance for frequent fliers. (Their associate within the USA is United.)

Avianca and has 4 fundamental connection hubs in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Bogota, and Lima, and fly to all of Central America and South America.

North American gateways (direct or in codeshares with companions) embody San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Washington-Dulles, JFK, Chicago-O’Hare, Toronto, and Mexico City.

Avianca’s Bankruptcy and Recovery

legroom in economy class




Limited legroom in financial system class now

In May 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The monetary loss suffered pressured the corporate to file resulting from 88% of the international locations it operated in being underneath journey restrictions or full journey shutdown. Other airways have been in the identical scenario, however the U.S. ones acquired bailout cash and a few of the others weren’t so stretched with debt and will maintain on longer.

Naturally, passenger statistics went down tremendously. Airlines all around the world plummeted in passenger stats and journeys because of the pandemic, and Avianca was not the one airline to file for chapter, alongside neighbors comparable to Aeromexico (nonetheless round) and Interjet (now historical past).

Avianca shut down its Peruvian subsidiary on account of the chapter. Anko van der Werff, the CEO on the time mentioned “Avianca is dealing with essentially the most difficult disaster in our 100-year historical past as we navigate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. We imagine {that a} reorganization underneath Chapter 11 is the perfect path ahead to guard the important air journey and air transport companies that we offer throughout Colombia and different markets all through Latin America.”

Avianca moved its focus to lower- and middle-class passengers on account of this, pivoting from wealthier clients, following the Chapter 11 emergence to prioritize affordability. The firm retired the A330, ATR 42, and ATR 72 vessels. Now it’s simply the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 787 in operation. Avianca moved to cheaper cabins, with smaller and extra environment friendly seats, and much more rows have been added, leading to a 20% capability enhance, permitting them to decrease fares.

In 2023, over a century after its founding, Avianca went by way of a picture rebrand. As talked about earlier, they modified the capital letter “A” in Avianca to a lowercase one, with the assertion “the sky belongs to everybody.” Since all of those modifications, the corporate has added routes, passenger site visitors is on the upswing, and the airline general retains increasing, bouncing again from the rock-bottom spot they discovered themselves in through the pandemic.

They have clearly turned the operations round too in much less seen areas: in 2023 they have been named essentially the most punctual international airline, at 85.73%. This stat places them 10% increased than their pre-pandemic spot in 2019, and a pair of% above 2022.

Avianca now operates in roughly 25 international locations all through Europe and the Americas, with 75 locations throughout 140 routes.

Business Class on Avianca: An Attempt to Rebound

There’s no good method to put this: enterprise class on Avianca turned a whole joke for a number of years there. During the COVID-19 days, they have been handing enterprise class passengers stale sandwiches wrapped in plastic and on some flights there was a single alcohol alternative. Apparently that was all that was left in storage and so they couldn’t restock, so your decisions have been Baily’s Irish Creme, coffee, or water. In enterprise class!

Word unfold rapidly and those that may afford enterprise class rapidly jumped to a different provider so they’d obtain higher therapy. The airline has a troublesome job in entrance of them making an attempt to persuade enterprise vacationers and rich leisure vacationers that this downgraded airline can nonetheless handle the premium passengers within the entrance of the airplane.

Earlier this 12 months, the corporate upgraded the Boeing 787s and A320 aircrafts, remodeling the chief cabins into what they’re calling Avianca Insignia cabins. Business class now consists of totally reclining seats, drinks (each alcoholic and never), in addition to full meals and all-you-can-eat snacks. Amenity kits in instances constructed from recycled material and designed in collaboration with the Gunadule indigenous group and Mola Sasa are offered as nicely, together with blankets and pillows. Here’s what the seats appear like now, in line with what’s on their web site:

avianca business class

New enterprise class options can even be out there on single-aisle planes beginning this summer season, on over 10 totally different routes throughout North America. Meals, snacks, drinks, and amenity kits are offered much like the Insignia cabins on the double-seat aircrafts.

Avianca Baggage Policies

This airline has adopted a lot of the others to the underside in relation to baggage insurance policies, providing a dreaded “fundamental financial system” choice that doesn’t embody something, however going as much as two checked luggage and a carry-on in case you fly enterprise class.

The two fares in between do embody one checked bag and a carry-on, so you’ll be able to pack what you want when headed to South America. Otherwise, you’ll should cough up $40 for the primary checked bag and also you’d higher do it prematurely: they’ll cost you an unbelievable $120 in case you wait till you’re on the airport!

Here’s the rundown on the fare choices for many flights, although brief ones typically begin with “gentle” and do embody a 10-kilo carry-on.

Avianca baggage policy and fare categories

Avianca Lounges

Like most established airways, some airports host VIP Avianca lounges for his or her passengers. Domestic lounges reside in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, and Barranquilla, and worldwide ones in Bogota and El Salvador. The airport places in South America are as follows:

  • El Dorado International Airport (Bogota)
  • San Oscar A. Romero International Airport (El Salvador)
  • José María Cordova Airport (Medellin)
  • Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (Cali)
  • Palonegro International Airport (Bucaramanga)
  • Rafael Nuñez International Airport (Cartagena)
  • Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (Barranquilla)

Avianca additionally has a lounge within the Miami airport and it’s one of many bigger ones there, at round 6,000 sq. toes. Most of those lounges can be found by way of the Priority Pass program or, when you’ve got excessive sufficient standing with a Star Alliance associate, that will get you in as nicely. Otherwise, it’s good to fly enterprise class or pay a charge to enter, which is what I did final time I had a layover in Bogota.

These lounges permit you to chill out earlier than flights and on layovers, entry Wi-Fi and charging stations, and partake in meals and drinks. Passes go for about 30$ per individual in case you don’t have standing or Priority Pass and could be bought and booked on-line.

Bogota Airport lounge

The lounge in Bogota we paid to enter

Go to Avianca.com for more information and flight offers. I’m unsure why, however this airline isn’t listed on SeatGuru. So you’ll should go to the Avianca part of Seatmaps.com for seat pitch and plan configurations.

It’s all the time value checking costs on the Avianca web site first, then evaluating them to what you discover on Kayak and elsewhere. In concept the perfect fares must be supplied direct, however that’s not all the time the case. Also, in case you search by way of an OTA, you’ll see what different airways could also be providing a greater deal (and extra consolation) on the identical route.

Anything we’ve missed on this overview of Avianca Airlines? If you flew them not too long ago, tell us the way it went!

Article and authentic photographs by editor Timothy Scott, display screen shot photographs from Avianca.com. Additional analysis by contributor Alina Leffel. 

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