Avianca S.A. (acronym in Spanish for "Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A.", Airways of the American Continent) is the national airline and flag carrier of Colombia, since 5 December 1919, when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA. It is headquartered in Bogotá, D.C. with its main hub at El Dorado International Airport. Avianca is also a trademark comprising a group of seven independently IATA-coded and -owned Latin American airlines, whose operations are combined to function as one airline using a code sharing system. Avianca is the largest airline in Colombia and second largest in Latin America. Avianca together with its subsidiaries has the most extensive network of destinations in Latin America. It is wholly owned by Synergy Group S.A., a Latin American holding company established by Germán Efromovich and specializing in air transport. It is listed on the Colombia Stock Exchange.
On 7 October 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA. In 2009 Avianca reached its 90th anniversary. It is the world's second oldest airline still in operation (behind KLM); Avianca is the oldest continuously operating airline in the Western Hemisphere.
On 21 June 2012, Avianca became an official member of Star Alliance after a process that lasted for around 18 months since their initial announcement of being invited in joining the Alliance.
Avianca Boeing 727 (1975).
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 their first flight between Barranquilla and the nearby town of Puerto Colombia using a Junkers F.13, transporting 57 pieces of mail. 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 efficiently operate in the climate of the country. There were nine aircraft in the fleet with a total range of 850 km (528 mi) which 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, floats were adapted for two of the Junkers aircraft to make water landings in the rivers near 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 required four emergency landings in the water.
Soon after the airline was founded, 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, which began in 1922. This new contract allowed SCADTA to thrive in a new frontier of aviation. By the mid-1920s, SCADTA started its first international routes that initially covered destinations in Venezuela and the United States. In 1924, the aircraft that both Ernesto Cortissoz and Helmuth von Krohn were flying crashed into an area currently known as Bocas de Ceniza in Barranquilla, killing them. In the early 1940s, Peter von Bauer sold his shares in the airline to the US-owned Pan American World Airways.
§National Airways of Colombia (1940–1994)
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: Rafael María Palacio, Jacobo A. Corea, Cristobal Restrepo, and Aristides Noguera, as well as German citizens Alberto Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was filled by Martín del Corral.
In 1946, Avianca began flights to Quito, Lima, Panama City, Miami, New York City and Europe, using Douglas DC-4s and C-54 Skymasters. In 1951, Avianca acquired Lockheed 749 Constellations and 1049 Super Constellations. In 1961, Avianca leased two Boeing 707 aircraft, to operate its international routes and on November 2, 1961, it acquired its own Boeing 720s. In 1976, Avianca became the first Latin American airline to continuously operate[clarification needed] a Boeing 747. Three years later, it started operations with another 747, this time a 747 Combi, mixing cargo and passenger operations.
§Merger and alliance (1994–2002)
In 1994, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and the helicopter operator Helicol, merged, beginning Avianca's new system of operations. This arrangement allowed for specialized services in cargo (Avianca Cargo) and postal services, as well as a more modern fleet, made up of Boeing 767–200s, Boeing 767–300s, Boeing 757–200s, McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, Fokker 50s, and Bell helicopters.
By 1996, Avianca Postal Services became Deprisa, which provided various mail services.
§Summa Alliance (2002–2004)
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. In November 2003, Alianza Summa was disbanded and ACES Colombia was liquidated altogether and SAM Colombia was acquired to be a regional carrier under Avianca's brand.
§American Continent Airways (2004–2009)
Avianca Airbus A330-200 at El Dorado International Airport (2009).
On 10 December 2004, Avianca concluded a major reorganization process, 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, in the 13 months following withdrawal from bankruptcy.
Avianca Airbus A330 economy class cabin.
Under this plan, Avianca was bought by Synergy Group, and was consolidated with its subsidiaries OceanAir and VIP Ecuador. In 2009, they were re-branded as Avianca Brazil and Avianca Ecuador, respectively.
§Avianca-TACA merger (2009-2013)
In 2009, it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA. This created AviancaTaca Holdings, which instantly became one of the region's largest airlines, with 129 aircraft and flights to more than 100 destinations.
In November 2009, the airline's Chief Executive Fabio Villegas announced that the airline was looking to replace its Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft with newer aircraft of 100 seats or less. In January 1, 2011, the airline decided to retire the Fokker 100 aircraft in 2011 and replace them with 10 Airbus A318 leased from GECAS. The aircraft were delivered from February to April 2011.
§Star Alliance (since 2012)
On 10 November 2010, Star Alliance announced that Avianca (and its merger counterpart, TACA) were full members in 2012. Due to Avianca's entry into Star Alliance, it ended its codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines and began a new codeshare agreement with United Airlines. TACA had been codesharing with United Airlines since 2006. On June 21, 2012, Avianca and TACA were both officially admitted into Star Alliance.
§Avianca Holdings S.A. (2013-Present)
TACA all other AviancaTaca airlines changed their brand to Avianca on May 28, 2013. On 21 March 2013, at the annual general meeting, the shareholders approved the change of corporate name from AviancaTaca Holdings S.A. to Avianca Holdings S.A.
In early 2015 it was announced that the airline had concluded a memorandum of understanding with Sky Airline of Chile, and would acquire a 59% controlling stake in Sky Airline. Until the deal was finalised Sky Airline would continue to operate independently.
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. Its previous head office was at Avenida El Dorado No. 93-30.
Main article: Avianca destinations
Avianca's hubs are in Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport, in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport and in Lima at Jorge Chávez International Airport . Its focus cities are Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, San José and Quito as well as Miami, where Avianca is the largest foreign carrier by number of passengers. The airline covers 87 destinations in 22 countries.
Avianca headquarters designed by Esguerra Saenz Urdaneta Samper
Avianca launched their LifeMiles frequent-flyer program in 2011, replacing AviancaPlus. The levels include Silver, Gold and Diamond, replacing the former Basic, Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Executive levels. This program covers all Avianca Holdings airlines.
Avianca currently maintains codeshare agreements with the following airlines in North America, South America, and Europe, as of October 2014:
Business Class is the differential service and on-board, for people who travel fare Business Class and LifeMiles highest number of miles accumulators. On land, they have unique modules for checkup and access to the VIP lounges. They also have priority boarding, luggage special badge and priority delivery. Once on board, these travelers have an exclusive cabin with more comfortable seats and more spacious. The menu has more variety of food, drinks and canapés. During the trip they have multiple options, such as audiovisual entertainment and reading material. With the Airbus A330, travelers in this class have an entertainment system consisting of a single touch screen in each seat manufacturer Panasonic, as well as different technologies to work as SkyOffice, USB connectors and power outlets among others.
Now, with the entry of Avianca Boeing 787, this class travelers have a revolutionary entertainment on board these aircraft, which includes a 16-inch thinner and tactile screen that has a touch control that allows you to see the rest on board content without pause what you're seeing. Each seat also has a personal space in order to give the passenger the maximum benefits to have a better rest in long-haul flights