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Avianca S.A. is the flag carrier airline of Colombia. Avianca was founded in Barranquilla in 1940, as a result of the merger of Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aereo or SCADTA (founded in 1919), and Servicio Aereo Colombiano or SACO (founded in 1933).Burden, William Armistead Moale. The Struggle for Airways in Latin America (reprint), p.73. Arno Press, New York, 1977. ISBN 0405097166 Today its main operation base and headquarters are in Bogota, adjacent to 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 destinations in the Americas and one of the largest and most modern aircraft fleet in the continent). It is wholly owned by Avianca-TACA Ltd., a Latin American holding company registered in the Bahamas and specialized in air transport. The airline is listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange.

In October 2009 it was announced that Avianca would merge with TACA but they have stated that each will maintain their own identity and operate separately.


SCADTA (1919 - 1940)

The airline traces its history back to December 5, 1919, in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Colombians Ernesto Cortissoz (the first President of the Airline), Rafael Palacio, Cristobal Restrepo, Jacobo Correa and Aristides Noguera and Germans Werner Kamerer, Stuart Hosie and Alberto Tietjen founded the Colombo-German Company, called Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aereo 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 in order 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 (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 October 20, 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 Braun 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)

On June 14, 1940, in the city of Barranquilla, SCADTA, under ownership by United States businessmen, merged with Colombian Air Carrier SACO, (acronym of Servicio Aereo Colombiano), forming the new Aerovias Nacionales de Colombia S.A. or Avianca. Five Colombians participated in this act: and German citizens Alberto Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was filled by Martin 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 Berrio.

On October 19 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 July 19, 1923, to save the country from bankruptcy, SCADTA transported a gold and currency load from Puerto Berrio to Girardot.

On July 12, 1928, a SCADTA Junkers F.13, commanded by Pilot Herbert Boy, crossed the Equator.

On July 23, 1929, regular routes between Girardot and Bogota were established.

The cost of the first SCADTA air tickets were as follows: from Bogota to Barranquilla, COP $75; from Bogota to Cartagena, COP $85; from Bogota to Cartago, COP $35; and from Bogota to Santiago de Cali, COP $50.

On July 16, 1931, SCADTA established the first mail service between Bogota 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 Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Paula Santander.

The year 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 Bogota 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, Medellin, Pasto and Monteria.

By 1990, Avianca had acquired the most modern aircraft in the world: two Boeing 767-200ERs, which were baptized with the names Cristobal Colon and Americo Vespucio.

Avianca's System (1994 - 2002)

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 B767-200, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 757200, McDonnell Douglas MD-83, Fokker 50 and Bell helicopters.

This new system covered the following destinations:

In Colombia: Bogota, Arauca, Armenia, Santiago de Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Cucuta, Santa Marta, Leticia, Manizales, Monteria, Pasto, Pereira, Popayan, Riohacha, San Andres, Valledupar, Providencia, Capurgana, Bahia Solano, Nuqui, Caucasia and Chigorodo.

In South America: Quito, Guayaquil, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Sao 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 Jose, San Juan, Curacao, 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 December 10, 1998, Avianca announced the inception of a new "connections center" in Bogota, 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:

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Delta Air Lines

Summa Alliance (2002 - 2004)

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 May 20, 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)

On December 10, 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.

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.

Avianca-TACA alliance (since 2009)

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 manufacured by Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier Aerospace are being considered for the replacement.


Volaris is a Mexican Airline based at Lic. Adolfo Lopez Mateos International Airport in Toluca.

AeroGal is an airline based at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.

Capital Airlines is a regional airline based at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

Helicol is a helicopter operator based at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

OceanAir is an airline based at Santos Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro.

SAM is an airline based at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

Tampa Cargo is a cargo airline based at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

VarigLog is a cargo airline based at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo.

VIP is a regional airline based at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.

TurbServ is a MRO company based at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo.

TACA is an airline based at Comalapa International Airport in San Salvador.

* Aeroman is a MRO company based at Comalapa International Airport in San Salvador.

* Lacsa is an airline based at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose.

* TACA Peru is an airline based at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.

* TACA Regional is a set of regional airlines based at several airports in Central America.

** Regional is a regional airline based at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.

** Aeroperlas is a regional airline based at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City.

** Islena is a regional airline based at Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa.

** La Costena is a regional airline based at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua.

** Sansa is a regional airline based at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose.

Former subsidiaries

ACES was an airline based at Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellin.

Wayraperu was a airline based at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.



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

Avianca's expansion during 2008 has added three new international destinations, with new flights to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Washington, D.C. and San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as new frequencies to Curacao, Valencia, Venezuela, Santiago, Chile, New York, Madrid and Barcelona, that help strengthen the hub in Bogota.

Avianca has also been granted service to Orlando, Florida, but the airline has not yet announced a start date for that service.

Avianca has recently gotten slots at London's Heathrow airport. This means that the airline has plans to resume services to London in the next coming months, depending on the delivery of the next few A330s.


Codeshare agreements

Presently, Avianca has codeshare agreements with:

Air Canada

Air France

Delta Air Lines

Iberia Airlines

Mexicana de Aviacion


Avianca VIP Lounges

Avianca has VIP lounges at the following airports:


Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (Barranquilla)

El Dorado International Airport (Bogota)

Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (Santiago de Cali)

Camilo Daza International Airport (Cucuta)

Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (Medellin)

Matecana International Airport (Pereira)

El Eden International Airport (Armenia)


Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (Guayaquil)

Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Quito)

Avianca Tours

Avianca Tours is Avianca's commercial division specializing in the design and offer of tour packages, for destinations in Colombia and abroad.

Avianca Tours offers packages to:

The Colombian Caribbean: Santa Marta, Cartagena and San Andres Island


The interior of Colombia: Bogota, Santiago de Cali and Medellin



Chile plus Argentina (Lake crossing)

Isla Margarita


Florida: Miami and Fort Lauderdale


Mexico: Mexico City plus Taxco, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta


Peru: Lima and Cusco

Spain: Madrid


The Avianca fleet consists of the following aircraft:

Source: CH-Aviation Last update: March 8, 2010


Source: CH-Aviation Last update: October 10, 2009


Awards and nominations


Avianca VIP Lounge at El Dorado Int'l Airport - Latin America & Caribbean - 2006 Priority Pass Lounge of the Year Awards

Certification ISAGO of IATA



South America's Leading Airline - 14th World Travel Awards

South America's Leading Airline Website - 14th World Travel Awards

(OceanAir) South America's Leading Budget / No Frills Airline - 14th World Travel Awards

South America's Leading Business Class Airline - 14th World Travel Awards


South America's Leading Airline - 13th World Travel Awards

South America's Leading Business Class Airline - 13th World Travel Awards


South America's Leading Airline - 12th World Travel Awards

South America's Leading Business Class Airline - 12th World Travel Awards

Incidents and accidents

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 Cesar 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.

On 26 April 1990, M-19 presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was gunned down during a domestic Avianca flight. [*] [*]

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.

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.

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.

Avianca Flight 410, a Boeing 727 domestic flight, which crashed into low mountains near Cucuta - Norte de Santander, Colombia, after take-off on 17 of March 1988, 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 Bogota to New York City via Medellin, 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.

Private bus services in the United States

In the United States, Avianca operates a private bus service from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Union City and Elizabeth in New Jersey." Board in New Jersey and Get off in Latin America." Avianca. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.

Popular culture

Footage of the wreckage of Avianca Flight 052 was used in the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow.

External links



Avianca Deprisa

Avianca Express

Avianca FlyBox

Avianca Services

Avianca Tours






* OceanAir Express

* OceanAir Magazine

* OceanAir Taxi Aereo


* TACA Cargo

* TACA Regional

* TACA Tus Sentidos

Tampa Cargo





* Terraris (Volaris Shuttle)

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